A team of researchers from the University of South Florida were able to double the survival time of mice with aggressive metastatic cancer using a combination of the ketogenic diet, ketone supplementation and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Principal investigator Dominic D’Agostino, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the USF Morsani College of Medicine, and his team published the findings in the scientific journal PLOS One.
D’Agostino, research associate Angela Poff, PhD, and their team found that the novel combination of a ketogenic diet (KD), ketone supplementation (KE) and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) was an effective non-toxic way to metabolically manage metastatic cancer.
“Animals receiving the combination of the ketogenic diet, ketone supplements, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy lived 103% longer than mice fed a standard high-carbohydrate diet (SD),” according to the study. “Both ketosis and HBOT are non-toxic and may even protect healthy tissues while simultaneously damaging cancer cells.”
In previous interviews with the Examiner, Dr. D’Agostino said his research during the past six years confirmed that a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet can successfully manage even advanced cancer.
“We’ve found that diet therapy can be effective in prolonging survival in mice with aggressive metastatic cancer,” D’Agostino told Examiner. These same anti-cancer properties have also been observed in human cancer patients and reported in published studies.
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. When you limit carbs (which turns into glucose inside the body), you reduce glucose and insulin, and thus restrict the primary fuel for cancer cell growth.
“Sugar addiction is the Achilles heel of cancer cells,” said Dr. D’Agostino.
The University of South Florida cancer study was inspired by the work of Professor Thomas Seyfried of Boston College. Dr. Seyfried’s decades of research suggests cancer is a metabolic — not a genetic — disease.
“The standard of care has been an abysmal failure for brain cancer,” said Dr. Seyfried, author of Cancer as a Metabolic Disease. “The ketogenic diet can replace the standard of care for brain cancer, which is absolutely survivable through metabolic therapy.”
There are numerous anecdotal success stories of individuals using the ketogenic diet to manage cancer. But D’Agostino’s latest study shows ketone supplements combined with a ketogenic diet and hyperbaric oxygen therapy can dramatically boost cancer survival. This discovery has exciting implications for fighting other diseases, including epilepsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our study suggests that this combination therapy presents a safe, cost-effective, adjuvant to standard care which could provide novel therapeutic options for patients with late-stage cancer,” said D’Agostino. “We believe that it is critically important to evaluate non-toxic adjuvant therapies like these.”
While the ketogenic diet as a metabolic therapy idea may sound new, 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.
Meanwhile, 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.
The University of South Florida researchers are currently working with other scientists to explore options for establishing human clinical cancer trials.