Ketogenic Diet and Cancer-a Perspective

Recent Results Cancer Res. 2016:207:233-40. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-42118-6_11.


Research of the last two decades showed that chronic low-grade inflammation, elevated blood glucose and insulin levels may play role in the onset of a number of non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. Regular exercise and fasting can ameliorate high blood glucose and insulin levels as well as increase the concentration of plasma ketone bodies. These, in consequence, may lead to reduction of inflammation. Exercise or severe restriction of caloric intake is not always advisable for patients, in particular those suffering from cancer. The ketogenic diet (KD), characterized by high fat, moderate protein and very low carbohydrate composition can evoke a physiological state similar to that triggered by exercise or fasting. These attributes of KD prompted its possible use in treatment of a number of metabolic diseases, including several types of malignancies. Although results from clinical studies employing KD in the treatment of cancer are still limited, the results obtained from animal models are encouraging and show that KD presents a viable option as an adjunct therapy for cancer.

Keywords: Cancer; Cancer therapy; Ketogenic diet; Ketone bodies; Metabolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy
  • Diet, Ketogenic*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / diet therapy
  • Ketone Bodies / blood
  • Neoplasms / blood
  • Neoplasms / diet therapy*
  • Neoplasms / etiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Ketone Bodies