Joe Mancaruso, a 56-year-old fitness club owner, has been battling terminal lung cancer without chemotherapy using the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.
In an exclusive interview, Mancaruso revealed to me why he decided to quit conventional cancer treatment and rely on a ketogenic diet.
Mancaruso, of Midland, Texas, has been following the ketogenic diet (which for him involves a macronutrient ratio of 78% fat, 17% protein, and 5% carbs) since February 2014 after deciding he was no longer interested in doing chemotherapy to treat his Stage 4 lung cancer.
Joe, who does not smoke, previously overcame testicular cancer in 1985 with four rounds of chemo.
In May 2013, Mancaruso was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and began treating it with the chemotherapy drug Alimta (at the hefty cost of $10,000 per dose every month). Joe said he suffered seizures and a weakened immune system as a result of chemo, and decided he had enough.
"After three rounds of Alimta, I decided no more chemo," said Mancaruso. "So I tried several diets, and finally ended up following the ketogenic diet, combined with supplements, exercise, sunshine and heat therapy."
Joe, a longtime fitness buff who does kettlebell workouts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, said he feels great relying solely on his ketogenic diet and rigorous exercise to treat his cancer. Joe realizes that opting out of chemo is a personal choice, but he likes that diet therapy won't deplete his retirement savings or destroy his quality of life — which chemo definitely does.
"This will not be the right choice for everyone, but for me at 56 years old, it allows me to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu four to five times a week, do my kettlebell training and travel," said Mancaruso.
Joe joins a small but growing number of cancer patients who are opting to use the LCHF ketogenic diet instead of chemotherapy to manage their cancer.
In March 2014, Alix Hayden of Saskatoon, Canada, told me she is treating her brain cancer with the ketogenic diet. Alix, director of operations at biochemistry research firm Phenomenome Discoveries, was diagnosed with brain cancer in August 2012.
Hayden has been following the ketogenic diet since February 2013 and is doing well. Her diet is roughly 65% fat, 30% protein, and 5% carbs. Alix's brain tumor hasn't gotten smaller since she began the ketogenic diet, but it also hasn't gotten any bigger — which is a great sign.
Hayden, who's in her thirties, gets an MRI every six months and is holding off on chemotherapy, as her brain tumor was categorized as slow-growing.
Similarly, 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.
While the idea of using diet therapy for a disease as deadly as cancer might sound shocking, research shows the ketogenic diet can starve cancer cells.
This is because 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 inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
"When we restrict carbs in our diet, we can prevent pro-inflammatory spikes in blood glucose and blood insulin," cancer scientist Dr. Dominic D'Agostino told me. "Suppression of blood glucose and insulin spikes can be very helpful when managing chronic diseases such as cancer."
Renowned cancer researcher Dr. Thomas Seyfried even told me the ketogenic diet can replace chemotherapy and radiation for treating even the deadliest of cancers.
Mancaruso also believes in the healing power of positive thinking, and credited the book Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds for inspiring him.
"I read a good book called 'Radical Remission' by Dr. Kelly Turner," he said. "She studied stage four cancer patients and looked for common factors in complete remission and also long-term survival surpassing all expectations. One of the factors she cited was taking control of your diet, which is what I did."
Joe said he has been spending the money that otherwise would have been used for expensive chemo drugs to enjoy his life.
"I decided to spend my money on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, a trip to Hawaii, San Francisco, and quality time with my wife Cindy, my kids, including seeing my daughter married," said Mancaruso. "I am convinced I would not be here today if I had continued with chemo."