Can a ketogenic diet inhibit the growth of brain tumors? (Image: Yulia / stock.adobe.com)
Effects of a ketogenic diet on brain cancer
A modified ketogenic diet appears to be beneficial for people with brain tumors. It causes changes in the metabolism of the body and the brain, which in turn seem to trigger metabolic changes in the tumor that affect its growth. For example, the ketogenic diet could potentially extend the life expectancy of people with brain cancer.
Atkins diet and intermittent fasting?
For a new study, the results of which are available in the English-language journal “Neurology,” a team including researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine examined 25 people with astrocytomas (brain tumors), all of whom had already suffered the disease. radiotherapy and chemotherapy had brought. The participants ate a type of ketogenic diet for eight weeks. It was a modified Atkins diet with intermittent fasting. This type of diet includes foods such as bacon, eggs, cream, butter, green leafy vegetables and fish, the researchers report.
Brain tumors are difficult to treat
“There aren’t many effective treatments for these types of brain tumors, and survival rates are low, so any further advancement is welcome,” said study author Dr. Roy E. Strowd of the Wake Forest School of Medicine.
Cancer cells need glucose to divide
“These cancer cells depend on glucose, or sugar, to divide and grow. Because the ketogenic diet is low in sugar, the body changes what it uses for energy – instead of carbohydrates, it uses something called ketones. Normal brain cells can survive on ketones, but the theory is that cancer cells can’t use ketones for energy, ”the expert continues.
How did the participants eat?
All participants met with a nutritionist at the start of the study and then every two weeks thereafter. Five days a week, they followed the Modified Atkins Diet, which combined restrictive carbohydrates and large amounts of fat. They fasted two days a week, consuming up to 20% of the recommended daily calorie intake, the team said.
According to the research group, the main objective of the study was to find out whether participants could follow such a form of diet without serious side effects. Urine tests showed that 80% of participants actually reached the level at which their bodies primarily used fat and protein for fuel instead of carbohydrates, the researchers report.
Side Effects of Weight Loss Diets?
In general, the diet was well tolerated, but two people experienced serious side effects during the study. According to experts, one of these side effects was unrelated to diet and the other was possibly related.
Changes in brain and body noted
Finally, at the end of the study, changes in the metabolism of the body and the brain were noted. Hemoglobin A1c, insulin levels and body fat are all reduced. The lean body mass for this increased, the team reports.
Metabolic changes in the tumor
Specialized brain scans, which detect changes in brain metabolites, have shown increased ketone concentration and metabolic changes in the tumor, experts say.
“Of course, more studies are needed to determine if this diet can prevent the growth of brain tumors and help people live longer, but these results show that the diet can successfully change the body’s metabolism and for people. with brain tumors (…) of the brain, ”adds study author Dr. Strowd added in a press release.
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of the specialized medical literature, medical directives and current studies and has been verified by healthcare professionals.
American Academy of Neurology: Could the ketogenic diet help against brain cancer? (published 07/07/2021), American Academy of Neurology Karisa C. Schreck, Fang-Chi Hsu, Adam Berrington, Bobbie Henry-Barron, Diane Vizthum et al .: Feasibility and biological activity of a ketogenic / fasting diet intermittent in Patients with glioma; in: Neurology (published 07/07/2021), Neurology
This article is for guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.