Dr. Thomas Seyfried says low-carb starves cancerous tumor cells
This Medical News Today story shares yet another positive health benefit to livin' la vida low-carb as a way to fight cancer cells that are causing life-threatening tumors which up until now has meant painful chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
But we've already seen a series of research studies provided over the past year confirming the low-carb treatment option for other areas of the body that cancer inflicts, including the pancreas, the esophagus, and the kidneys. This latest study confirms the use of a high-fat, low-carb diet on brain cancer, too!
Research supervisor Dr. Thomas Seyfried, professor of biology at Boston College, overlooked this study featuring a product called KetoCal. Looking at their web site, the nutritional label for each 100g serving of this powder drink product shows it contains 90 percent fat (72g), 15g protein, and just 3g carbohydrates. It is also heavily fortified with all the essential vitamins and minerals for a nutrient-dense diet.
Although this product has been primarily marketed to children with epilepsy, another health ailment that has been found to improve on a low-carb diet (with all these improvements in health just by switching to livin' la vida low-carb, why aren't we hearing more recommendations by our health leaders to have people switch to this way of eating, hmmm?), now Dr. Seyfried and his team of researchers wanted to test to see if KetoCal could improve the condition of people suffering from brain cancer.
While KetoCal was used in the study, they did not pay for this study except to donate the products that the mice involved in the study consumed. But the results of this study were not so much about any particular product as much as it was about the remarkable findings of how health improves dramatically on a high-fat, low-carb diet.
The researchers implanted into the brains of male laboratory mice two kinds of malignant tumors and then divided them into three distinctive dietary groups:
GROUP 1--Low-fat, high-carb mouse chow
GROUP 2--Unlimited amounts of the high-fat, low-carb KetoCal
GROUP 3--Restricted amounts of the high fat, low-carb KetoCal
What were the results of the study?
GROUP 1 and GROUP 2 did not see improvements in the brain cancer. However, GROUP 3 saw a 35-65 percent reduction in the growth of the brain tumors and extended their life survival rates longer than the control groups. Moreover, the overall health of the high-fat, low-carb GROUP 3 mice was enhanced compared with the low-fat, high-carb GROUP 1.
The results of this study were published in the February 21, 2007 issue of the scientific journal Nutrition & Metabolism.
Describing the high-fat, low-carb diet as a "novel alternative therapy for malignant brain cancer," Dr. Seyfried believes the results his team found should lend credence to finding a more natural, just as effective, and economical way to fight this devastating condition.
"While the tumors did not vanish in the mice who received the strict KetoCal diet, they got significantly smaller and the animals lived significantly longer. And compared to radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, KetoCal is a relatively inexpensive treatment option," he said.
Since brain cancer is a leading killer among the cancers in both adults and children, researchers have been looking for less invasive ways to provide long-term management that will reduce the size of tumors by using the knowledge we already have about what feeds the cells of this cancer.
What the high-fat, low-carb diet does is basically starve tumors from getting any glucose (sugar), something we have learned from other research actually feeds cancer cells. Yikes! So, despite the low-fat diet that GROUP 1 ate, it was the high-carb content that prevented their brain tumors from seeing improvements.
Interestingly, although opponents of livin' la vida low-carb have made a mockery of ketosis and the ketone bodies that are produced on a low-carb diet, the truth of the matter is tumor cells cannot effectively metabolize them and, thus, cannot grow. Do you think you're gonna hear that on the 6 o'clock news anytime soon?! Yeah right!
What's most revealing about this study is the fact that it shows a positive step in the right direction with health as a result of going on a low-carb diet. We always hear the naysayers talking about how unsafe and ineffective this "dangerous fad" diet is for people to go on. But clearly the evidence from the research that is coming out is showing just the opposite is true.
There will come a day sometime in the future when livin' la vida low-carb will be the preferred and quite possibly recommended dietary approach to treating obesity and disease in the United States of America. It won't happen soon, but I honestly believe that day is coming. I only hope to stick around on this Earth long enough to see it happen in my lifetime. It could happen in the next 50 years. Wait and see!
You can e-mail Dr. Thomas Seyfried about his outstanding research at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2-27-07 UPDATE: I heard from Dr. Thomas Seyfried in an e-mail today regarding my blog post.
Dear Mr. Moore,
Thank you for your interest in our brain cancer research. While the impact of the calorically restricted diet on brain cancer is significant, there is still much we don't know on the molecular mechanisms of action. Providing this kind of information will eventually hasten the adaption of the diet for general clinical use.
It is also important to mention that the anti-tumor benefits of the diet are observed only when given in restricted amounts to lower total caloric intake. Our previous studies showed that we could get similar results using a calorically restricted high carbohydrate/low fat diet. The phenomenon basically involves a complex series of metabolic transitions following reductions glucose and elevations in ketones. Ketogenic diets simply provide somewhat more circulating ketone bodies than restricted high carb diets, which is healthy for normal brain cells.
Well, I certainly appreciate the correspondence Dr. Seyfried. I'd be interested in seeing the side-by-side comparison of a calorie-restricted low-carb diet with a calorie-restricted low-fat diet to see what the difference would be on cancer and other health markers. That would be a fascinating subject to study. THANKS again for your e-mail!