Keto & Cancer

Published: December 1, 2019

Keto & Cancer

There have been a lot of advances with the ketogenic diet and cancer. Now it’s important to note, no matter what, that in no way shape or form is this saying that the ketogenic diet is going to cure cancer. But it’s important that people understand how cancer cells generally eat, but in order to understand that we also have to understand how normal cells, non-cancer cells actually eat. When I say eat I mean what kind of things they consume, glucose, fat, how they breathe. What metabolic process they go through. So we’re going to break it all down, but I also want to highlight a 2019 study that is pretty fascinating in the world of cancer research and nutrition. My name’s Thomas DeLauer with Keto-Mojo and we’re going to dive in to cellular metabolism and cancer.

The Role of Glucose

So first thing’s first, a normal cell in our human body utilizes glucose and combines it with oxygen to create what is known as ATP to create energy. When oxygen is not present, what happens is glucose still combines with other processes, but it ultimately creates lactic acid as a byproduct. Now why does this matter when we’re talking about cancer? Cancer cells don’t do the same thing. Cancer cells take in glucose, and directly turn it into lactic acid. They do this simply because they have a little bit of an impaired mitochondrial ability. What that means is, the mitochondria, the energy powerhouse of the cancer cell is a little bit dysfunctional compared to that of a normal cell. It’s different, it’s mutant. A cancer cell in general is kind of mutant right? Now what that means to us is that they need a lot of glucose to grow. They need a lot of glucose to stay alive because they’re inefficient at creating energy and growing. We often think that cancer cells are very efficient and grow rapidly, they do on the surface but as far as the energy that they need to grow, they actually are pretty inefficient. They take a lot of glucose to have a little effect. The point here is that if we for the most part, do deprive ourselves of insulin and glucose to some degree, a lot of cancer cell growth ends up stopping.

What Does Insulin Do?

Now let’s also take a look at something called insulin. Insulin is a signaling pathway. Insulin allows cells to grow, it is an anabolic hormone in a sense, it is pro-growth. In a normal cell it allows glucose to come into the cell to grow, well it also does that with tumors, with cancer. Insulin is a signaling pathway and if we can slow down the insulin levels and lower those, then we won’t have as much potential cancer growth. Again, I use these words a little bit loosely because I want to make sure that we’re not saying that this is the end all be all. What we have found through lots of different research is that it is largely dependent on the types of cancer. A lot of cancers respond very very well to a ketogenic diet in the sense that they don’t grow anymore, and that’s simply because the cancer cells are so metabolically inefficient, they don’t know how to use fats for fuel properly. Whereas the other cells in our body can use fats and ketones, the cancer cells just can’t. So they end up staying stagnant and sometimes even starving.

Journal Cell Reports Study 

So now let’s go ahead and talk about this 2019 study because it’s pretty interesting stuff. So this study was published in the Journal Cell Reports in 2019. It took a look at squamous cell lung cancers. So squamous cells are cancer cells that we know really thrive on sugar. So in some ways, this study was a little bit unfair because it already looked at a cell that we already know responds well to sugar. But still really interesting stuff, because they found that a ketogenic diet did stop the growth of a squamous cell cancer cell. Really wild stuff. And they also found that if you were just to eat a regular diet with that, so in this case it was mice that were consuming their normal chow diet, their chow diet’s just like, almost like a standard American diet. So what’s interesting is the standard American or chow diet, still caused the standard growth. So the cell was able to grow, the cancer cell was able to grow and cancer went along. So interesting here is that we’re not finding a cure for cancer, but we are finding the ketogenic diet could stop some kinds of cancers from growing, therefore allowing adjunct treatments to do their job. Ketones are exceptionally important here because this is where it comes down to it, ketones like the things that you’re measuring with your meter right here, the most important piece of the ketogenic diet, they can’t be used as fuel in a cancer cell, or most cancer cells, because they lack the ability at the mitochondrial level. So you essentially starve it.

So the same study took a look at individuals, people, not mice, that had squamous cell lung and esophageal cancers. They found that once again, there was a correlation between high levels of glucose and squamous cell cancers. So showing that even lifestyle factors, just consuming more sugar could be correlated with squamous cell cancers. Now correlation does not equal causation, but it’s important to note. But at the end of all of this, whether a cancer cell or a regular cell can use sugar, fats or beta hydroxybutyrate, is a little bit irrelevant because we don’t know all the details yet. We’re still uncovering so much, but what we do know, is at the end of all of this, keeping our insulin levels low is what is super important. Because no matter what kind of cancer, if our insulin levels are high, we are triggering a pro-growth signal. We’re triggering a pro-growth signal that can cause a tumor to grow, can cause a regular cell to grow, can cause a fat cell to grow.

Research is Showing that the Ketogenic Diet Could be a Powerful Way to Combat Cancer

At the end of all of it, again, insulin is a problem if we have too much of it. So we can at least table this to the sense of keeping your insulin levels low gives you a fighting chance in a lot of different ways. But the research is still coming in at rapid light speed, proving that the ketogenic diet could be a really powerful way to combat cancer. We’ll bring a lot more detail on this as science unfolds, as we always want to keep you up to speed on the amazing advances with the ketogenic diet and the medical community as well. So make sure you keep it locked in here with Keto-Mojo and keep the guesswork out of the equation and leave that measuring of your ketones to the gold standard meter, and I’ll see you in the next video.


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