Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States. While medical science has made great strides in treating cancer, ground-breaking research indicates diet therapy may be even more effective at beating cancer into submission.
According to Dr. Dominic D'Agostino, a low-carb, high-fat, calorie-restricted ketogenic diet "starves: cancer cells. In an exclusive Examiner interview, Dr. D'Agostino said his research since 2009 indicates a high-fat ketogenic diet successfully manages even advanced cancer.
"We've found that diet therapy can be effective in prolonging survival in mice with aggressive metastatic cancer," said D'Agostino, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.
These same anti-cancer properties have also been observed in human cancer patients and reported in published studies. The cancer fighting ketogenic diet "formula" is roughly 75% fat, 23% protein, and 2% carbs.
Cancer Cells Thrive On Sugar
According to D'Agostino, all the cells in our body can use both fat and glucose (a carb), but cancer cells thrive on glucose and cannot survive on ketones. So by limiting carbohydrates (which turns into glucose inside the body), we can starve cancer cells. "Sugar addiction is the Achilles' heel of cancer cells," said Dr. D'Agostino.
While the exact cause of cancer can't be pinpointed, we know that diet and lifestyle (such as smoking) play key roles in determining who gets cancer and who doesn't. But D'Agostino says inflammation promotes cancer and a host of other illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer's. A high-carb diet is very inflammatory.
"When we restrict carbs in our diet, we can prevent pro-inflammatory spikes in blood glucose and blood insulin," explained D'Agostino, who has a Ph.D. in physiology and neuroscience.
Most cancer scientists have historically thought cancer was a genetic disease, but only 5-10% of cancer is hereditary."
He underscored that a ketogenic diet that's low carb, low-calorie, high-fat and moderate-protein is the most effective at starving cancer, especially when combined with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
D'Agostino became convinced of the health benefits of the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet after reading Dr. Jeff Volek's book, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.
He has also done extensive research on the use of the ketogenic diet with researcher Thomas Seyfried of Boston College. Seyfried detailed the cancer-fighting properties of the ketogenic diet in his book, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease.
Dr. Seyfried's decades of research indicate that cancer is a metabolic — not a genetic — disease. And the best way to treat a metabolic disorder is through diet, not by pumping a patient full of toxic radiation.
Elaine Cantin discussed how she used the ketogenic diet to manage her son's type I diabetes and her own aggressive breast cancer in her book, The Cantin Ketogenic Diet.
"The cancer research community needs to change its view of cancer as a metabolic — not a genetic — disease in order to make meaningful progress," said Travis Christofferson, author of Tripping Over the Truth: The Metabolic Theory of Cancer.
Keto Diet Fuels Weight Loss and Curbs Disease
While some people may balk at the idea of a low-calorie diet, obesity experts point out that a high-fat ketogenic diet makes eating fewer calories much easier. This is because fat is more satiating than carbs — or even protein — so you don't feel very hungry even when you consume fewer calories.
A ketogenic diet has already proven effective at producing rapid weight loss, at treating epilepsy and preventing Alzheimer's disease, said obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman, co-author of Keto Clarity.
Since 2007, Dr. D'Agostino has worked with the Office of Naval Research to assist the Navy SEALs by developing ketogenic diet strategies to protect them from the undersea environment. He found that a ketogenic diet prevented Navy SEALs from getting seizures during rigorous underwater training exercises.
On top of its disease-fighting properties, Dr. D'Agostino says a ketogenic diet may be beneficial for many people, because restricting carbs makes weight management easy and staves off almost all degenerative diseases.
But D'Agostino doesn't just talk the talk. He walks the walk by following a ketogenic diet himself, and feels (and looks) great. As he looks ahead, he's optimistic that ketogenic-diet therapy will one day replace the common standard of care that today includes toxic chemotherapy.
This approach will enable patients to proactively manage their cancer and dramatically improve their quality of life, since chemotherapy causes people to get violently ill and is also extremely expensive.
"Within the next 10 years, I think we'll be able to rely on diet therapy to treat cancer and do away with toxic chemotherapy," said D'Agostino.