Low-Carb Diet Reduces Lifespan And Energy Supply To Tumors

By R. Siva Kumar - 17 Apr '16 09:11AM

With low-carbohydrate diets, you can reduce the development of tumors and enhance survival even among those afflicted with the most common brain cancer in adults,  says a new study.

University of Florida experts examined mice models of human glioblastoma and discovered that a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet can help to stall the development of tumor cells and increase lifespans by 50 percent.

Lead researcher Brent Reynolds, a professor in the Lillian S. Wells Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Florida, said that the ketogenic diet, found to have been used for more than a century to decrease epileptic seizures, can also help to reduce cancer development.

Reynolds noted that it works by reducing the energy that tumors require in order to develop. Earlier studies showed that glioblastoma tumors call for large amounts of energy while the ketogenic diet halts their growth by limiting cancer's glucose supply.

"While this is an effective treatment in our preclinical animal models, it is not a cure. However, our results are promising enough that the next step is to test this in humans," Reynolds added.

The ketogenic diet can also be modified using a coconut oil derivative instead of carbohydrates as an energy source. It can be more palatable, with patients getting to eat more carbohydrates and protein.

"When you're sick, you need as many comforts in your life as you can get and the food is a huge comfort. That's the idea: Could we develop a beneficial diet but make it much easier for patients?" Reynolds said.

By modifying high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets, it is possible to increase life expectancy by 50 percent and slow down tumors by nearly half in mice glioblastoma models. Experts noted that 10 percent of the modified diet and 55 percent of the control diet was from carbohydrates.

Reynolds and his team also discovered that modified ketogenic diets seem to make radiation and chemotherapy therapy more effective against glioblastoma tumors. Experts believe that modified diet can be taken as a supplementary therapy to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation.

"This simple dietary approach may be able to reduce tumor progression and enhance the standard of care treatments in cancers that are highly metabolically active," Reynolds concluded.

The findings are published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

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