Effects of a ketogenic diet on tumor metabolism and nutritional status in pediatric oncology patients: two case reports

J Am Coll Nutr. 1995 Apr;14(2):202-8. doi: 10.1080/07315724.1995.10718495.


Objective: Establish dietary-induced ketosis in pediatric oncology patients to determine if a ketogenic state would decrease glucose availability to certain tumors, thereby potentially impairing tumor metabolism without adversely affecting the patient's overall nutritional status.

Design: Case report.

Setting: University Hospitals of Cleveland.

Subjects: Two female pediatric patients with advanced stage malignant Astrocytoma tumors.

Interventions: Patients were followed as outpatients for 8 weeks. Ketosis was maintained by consuming a 60% medium chain triglyceride oil-based diet.

Main outcome measures: Tumor glucose metabolism was assessed by Positron Emission Tomography (PET), comparing [Fluorine-18] 2-deoxy-2-fluoro-D-glucose (FDG) uptake at the tumor site before and following the trial period.

Results: Within 7 days of initiating the ketogenic diet, blood glucose levels declined to low-normal levels and blood ketones were elevated twenty to thirty fold. Results of PET scans indicated a 21.8% average decrease in glucose uptake at the tumor site in both subjects. One patient exhibited significant clinical improvements in mood and new skill development during the study. She continued the ketogenic diet for an additional twelve months, remaining free of disease progression.

Conclusion: While this diet does not replace conventional antineoplastic treatments, these preliminary results suggest a potential for clinical application which merits further research.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytoma / diet therapy*
  • Astrocytoma / metabolism
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / diet therapy*
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ketosis / etiology
  • Ketosis / metabolism*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / diet therapy*
  • Spinal Cord Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Triglycerides / administration & dosage


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Triglycerides