THE KETOGENIC (keto) diet in conjunction with a diabetes drug could augment the effects of chemotherapy, a new study suggests. By feeding mouse models of lung and oesophageal cancer a keto diet and administering a diabetes drug, the levels of circulating glucose in the blood can be restricted and reabsorption of blood sugar by the kidneys be prevented.
Certain cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), rely on glucose for energy, survival, and to maintain their ‘antioxidative capacity’ to a greater degree than other cancers such as lung adenocarcinoma. Researchers from Biological Sciences at the University of Texas, Texas, USA, have shown that by limiting access to glucose through the keto diet, these cancers may become more vulnerable to conventional chemotherapy and radiation.
The keto diet has a high fat content, a moderate amount of protein sources, and low carbohydrate content. The body resorts to using stored fat as an energy source owing to the deprivation of glucose and state of ‘ketosis’. In the study, mouse models were fed a keto diet with 0.1% carbohydrates or a normal chow diet. “Xenograft tumour growth of lung SCC […] and oesophageal SCC […] was significantly inhibited upon ketogenic diet as compared to normal […] groups,” reported the researchers. Crucially, the study indicates that implementation of a keto diet alone has an inhibitory effect on tumour growth in SCC. The effects were shown to be greater when the diet was used with a diabetes drug and chemotherapy. Treatment power was elevated by selectively inducing metabolic oxidative stress in the cancerous cells caused by the restriction of glucose.