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Low carb diets prevent colon cancer: New study supports ketogenic diet claims

Low carb ketogenic and Paleo style diets can prevent cancer.
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Scientists at the University of Toronto say a low-carb diet can dramatically reduce the risk of colon cancer. In a press release July 18, UT researchers said their studies indicate a low-carb diet can stem cancer growth by up to 75 percent.

“Our results suggest that a diet low in carbohydrates could benefit those with a genetic predisposition to colon cancer,” said Alberto Martin, a professor in the department of immunology.

“About 20 percent of colon cancers thrive on mutations in genes involved in DNA mismatch repair. For this type of cancer, our study offers an explanation for the interplay among genetics, diet and intestinal microbiota.”

Martin and his team at the University of Toronto conducted studies on mice and identified a gut bacteria that fuels cancer growth by converting carbs into cancer-spurring metabolites. Following a low-carb diet dramatically reduced the spread of cancer, said Martin, who published his findings in the medical journal Cell.

Scientist: Ketogenic Diet Beats Chemo for Most Cancers

The latest study from UT confirms other findings by renowned cancer scientist Dr. Thomas Seyfried of Boston College. Seyfried's decades of research indicates cancer is a metabolic disease that can best be treated with the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.

Dr. Seyfried, widely considered the godfather of the nutritional treatment of cancer, joins a growing number of researchers who say the ketogenic diet can treat most forms of cancer. Seyfried's study was recently published in the medical journal Carcinogenesis.

This is because nearly all the healthy cells in our body have the metabolic flexibility to use fat, glucose and ketones to survive, but cancer cells lack this metabolic flexibility and require large amounts of glucose and cannot survive on ketones. So by limiting carbohydrates (as the keto diet does) we can reduce glucose and insulin, and thus restrict the primary fuel for cancer cell growth.

While this idea may sound new to us lay people, scientists have been aware of this for the past 80 years. This phenomenon was first observed in the 1920s by German physiologist Otto Warburg, who won a Nobel Prize in 1931 for discovering that cancer cells have defective mitochondria and thrive on sugar.

The “Warburg effect” can be exploited by the ketogenic diet, but so far this approach has not been used to fight cancer. However, the tide may soon be turning. Today, there are about a dozen studies that are investigating the use of the ketogenic diet to manage all kinds of cancer.

In addition to fueling weight loss, the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet has been shown to combat a variety of different diseases, including epilepsy, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and heart disease. "The ketogenic diet is a single metabolic approach to a multitude of different diseases," said Dr. Seyfried.

Seyfried joins a growing number of scientists who say the LCHF ketogenic diet is a promising alternative to the current standard of care. Dr. Dominic D'Agostino of the University of South Florida agrees cancer is a metabolic disease that can be managed with the ketogenic diet.

"Most cancer scientists have historically thought cancer was a genetic disease, but only 5 to 10 percent of cancer is hereditary," said Dr. D'Agostino.

Seyfried: Ketogenic Diet Beats Chemo for Most Cancers

In 2012, urologist Dr. Eugene Fine conducted a 10-patient pilot study at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y. The patients all had advanced cancers and agreed to follow a ketogenic diet (which for limited daily carb intake to less than 50 grams) for 28 days.

The results indicated that six of the 10 patients responded well to the ketogenic diet, meaning their cancers stabilized or showed partial remission. Dr. Adrienne Scheck of the Barrow Brain Tumor Research Center also said the ketogenic diet can be an effective tool to manage deadly brain cancer.

So far, there are numerous anecdotal success stories. One is Joe Mancaruso, a 56-year-old Texas man, who told me he has been battling terminal lung cancer without chemotherapy using the ketogenic diet. "I am convinced I would not be here today if I had continued with chemo," said Mancaruso.

Dr. Seyfried said the time has come for the medical community to publicly acknowledge the viability of the ketogenic diet as an inexpensive, non-toxic way to treat cancer.

"The standard of care has been an abysmal failure for cancer," said Dr. Seyfried. "The ketogenic diet may one day replace the standard of care for most cancers. To those who doubt me, I say: 'Prove me wrong.'"