Ketogenic diets as an adjuvant cancer therapy: History and potential mechanism

Redox Biol. 2014;2:963-70. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2014.08.002. Epub 2014 Aug 7.

Abstract

Cancer cells, relative to normal cells, demonstrate significant alterations in metabolism that are proposed to result in increased steady-state levels of mitochondrial-derived reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as O2(•-)and H2O2. It has also been proposed that cancer cells increase glucose and hydroperoxide metabolism to compensate for increased levels of ROS. Given this theoretical construct, it is reasonable to propose that forcing cancer cells to use mitochondrial oxidative metabolism by feeding ketogenic diets that are high in fats and low in glucose and other carbohydrates, would selectively cause metabolic oxidative stress in cancer versus normal cells. Increased metabolic oxidative stress in cancer cells would in turn be predicted to selectively sensitize cancer cells to conventional radiation and chemotherapies. This review summarizes the evidence supporting the hypothesis that ketogenic diets may be safely used as an adjuvant therapy to conventional radiation and chemotherapies and discusses the proposed mechanisms by which ketogenic diets may enhance cancer cell therapeutic responses.

Keywords: Cancer therapy; Ketogenic diet; Oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemoradiotherapy, Adjuvant / methods*
  • Diet, Ketogenic*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Superoxides / metabolism*

Substances

  • Superoxides
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Glucose