The Ketogenic Diet for Cancer Patients: A Narrative Review Public Deposited

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  • October 1, 2019
  • Wallis, Jessica
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Nutrition
  • Use of the ketogenic diet in cancer patients is currently being explored in all stages and types of cancer. The ketogenic diet could influence human metabolism in such a way as to reduce tumor growth, increase efficacy of standard cancer treatments, and reduce side effects of those treatments. The goal of this review was to examine the available evidence on the effects of the ketogenic diet in human cancer patients. Including the only randomized controlled trial to date, 15 articles were reviewed and summarized to help determine the state of the science. As research in this area is emerging, most of these studies used small sample sizes and were conducted in patients with advanced cancer stages. However, they differed in design, diet intervention, and measurement of outcomes, including method and frequency of biomarkers and diet adherence. Although most results from these studies are mixed, all studies support the safety and feasibility of the ketogenic diet for cancer patients. Those studies that examined body composition reported positive effects from the ketogenic diet, such as preservation of muscle mass and increased physical functioning. In addition, certain biomarkers point to a positive effect of the diet on cancer proliferation; however, it is unknown if the effects of the diet differ between specific cancer cell types and if these effects influence tumor growth. More research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms behind the effects of the diet, and to determine the differences in metabolism across specific cancer cell types before this diet can be recommended.
Date of publication
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  • In Copyright
  • Valle, Carmina
  • Master of Public Health
Academic concentration
  • Public Health Nutrition
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018
Deposit record
  • 573556b5-6d99-4837-8954-3ff78e71cca7

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