Cancer is a metabolic disease that can be prevented and treated with the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet, according to a growing body of scientific research.
Studies show the ketogenic diet may beat chemotherapy for some forms of cancer because cancer is a metabolic – not a genetic – disease, said Travis Christofferson, author of Tripping Over the Truth: The Metabolic Theory of Cancer.
The cancer community has made little progress in finding a cure over the last 50 years because its approach has focused entirely on the theory that cancer is a genetic disease, explained Christofferson. His discussions with leading scientific researchers suggest this is not true.
“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 Christofferson, founder and president of the cancer research foundation, Single Cause, Single Cure.
After speaking with top cancer researchers, including Thomas Seyfried of Boston College, Dominic D’Agostino of the University of South Florida Medical School, and Johns Hopkins University researchers Pete Pedersen and Young Ko, Christofferson discovered that a low-calorie ketogenic diet combined with hyperbaric oxygen therapy can prevent and significantly reduce the spread of cancer by improving metabolic health.
“Most cancer scientists have historically thought cancer was a genetic disease, but only 5% to 10% of cancer is hereditary,” said D’Agostino, who, along with with Thomas Seyfried, detailed the metabolic theory of cancer in the medical journal Carcinogenesis.
Cancer Cells Love Sugar: Ketogenic Diet Starves Cancer
We all have cancerous or pre-cancerous cells growing inside our bodies, but people with healthy immune systems keep the cancer from mutating and turning deadly. The mechanisms that keep cells from mutating (DNA repair processes) depend on healthy mitochondrial function.
“Healthy mitochondria are the ultimate tumor suppressor,” said Dr. D’Agostino. One way to keep mitochondria healthy is through the low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet, which stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis and enhances mitochondrial efficiency.
The ketogenic diet inhibits the growth of cancer cells by reducing the blood sugar spikes that fuel inflammation.
“When we restrict carbs in our diet, we can prevent pro-inflammatory spikes in blood glucose and blood insulin,” D’Agostino explained. “Suppression of blood glucose and insulin spikes can be very helpful when managing many chronic diseases.”
The ketogenic diet has been around for decades, but has only recently begun to find mainstream acceptance as a way to manage disease. The keto diet has been shown to reverse type 2 diabetes and has proven more effective than drugs at controlling seizures for some epilepsy patients.
Obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman, co-author of Keto Clarity, also said the ketogenic diet produces rapid weight loss by inducing ketosis, a metabolic state where the body burns body fat for fuel.
Dr. D’Agostino joins a growing number of cancer researchers who say the ketogenic diet starves cancer. 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 can’t survive on ketones.
By drastically limiting carbs, we can reduce glucose (and insulin) and restrict the primary fuel for cancer cell growth. 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 this approach has not been used to fight cancer, partly due to the entrenched low-fat diet dogma that has historically promoted a high-carb diet.
‘More People Make a Living Off Cancer Than Die of It’
Dr. Thomas Seyfried, considered the “godfather of the metabolic theory of cancer,” said the medical community is reluctant to publicly acknowledge the efficacy of the ketogenic diet for preventing and treating cancer because doing so would cut off the massive streams of revenue hospitals generate from chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
“The reason why the ketogenic diet is not being prescribed to treat cancer is purely economical,” Dr. Seyfried told me. “Cancer is big business. There are more people making a living off cancer than there are dying of it.”
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.
Dr. Seyfried says 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 Seyfried, author of Cancer As a Metabolic Disease. “The ketogenic diet may one day replace the standard of care for most cancers.”
Today, there are about a dozen studies that are investigating the use of the ketogenic diet to manage all kinds of cancer. Those results will determine whether the medical community will adopt metabolic therapy to treat cancer in the future.