Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States. And while medical science has made great strides in treating cancer, ground-breaking research indicates that 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 literally starves cancer cells.
In an exclusive interview, Dr. D'Agostino told me his research during the past four years confirmed that 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.
According to Dr. 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.
While the exact cause of cancer can't be pinpointed, we know that genetics and lifestyle (such as smoking) play key roles in determining who gets cancer and who doesn't.
But Dr. 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.
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.
While some people may balk at the idea of a low-calorie diet, it bears noting 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 enhancing athletic performance in endurance athletes, and at treating epilepsy. In fact, a ketogenic diet is even more effective than drugs at controlling epileptic seizures.
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," he said.