Ketogenic Diet Boosts Cancer Therapy

Ketogenic diet may boost targeted cancer therapy, according to a latest study by researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine, Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian.

Ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate, high-fat diet, it’s a diet for managing blood glucose(blood sugar) and has a 4-decade history. 

PI3K, or phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase, is a type of insulin-activated enzyme. In many cancers, mutations of PI3K have been implicated. In the past 10 years, cancer drugs were developed to inhibit PI3K mutations so as to treat tumors, such drugs are called targeted drugs for cancer. 

The researchers have noticed that the PI3K inhibitor drugs didn’t work as well as hoped, and tried to find out why. They’ve found that some patients taking these drugs develop excessively high levels of blood sugar or hyperglycemia, and the blood sugar levels don’t return to normal.  They’ve noticed that any drug that targets PI3K may not be effective unless patients can maintain low blood sugar levels through diet or medication.

The searchers then tried to control blood sugar and insulin levels along with PI3K inhibitors, they treated the mice with the diabetes drugs metformin or sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, or the ketogenic diet.

It turned out metformin didn’t have much effect on the glucose or insulin spikes, or on cellular signals that promote tumor growth. The SGLT2 inhibitors reduced the glucose and insulin spikes in response to PI3K treatment and reduced tumor growth signals. However, the ketogenic diet did the best job at preventing glucose and insulin spikes and tamping down tumor growth signals.

The researchers were excited with the finding, and they believe the study result means an innovative approach to cancer treatment. The researchers will take a further step to move to clinical trial. 

However, it’s important to remind that the ketogenic diet alone may not necessarily help control cancer growth and in some cases may even be harmful.