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Ketogenic Diet and Cancer Cells

Ask the Nutritionist

Q: Do you have information on the use of the ketogenic diet for the purpose of destroying cancer cells?

A: There is some convincing evidence that a ketogenic diet (one that is high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates) is beneficial in treating seizures. There is also preliminary evidence that a ketogenic diet may be helpful, when implemented along with a treatment such as chemotherapy, in slowing the growth rate of tumors. This is being studied in head and neck cancer, prostate cancer, and brain cancer.

There is no definitive conclusion at the moment, but this topic seems to be one that is being investigated as alternative and supplemental remedies for cancer treatment are being discovered. The down side of a ketogenic diet is that plant foods, like fruits and vegetables, contain healthy forms of carbohydrates that are cut out. There are known benefits of nutrients in plant-based diets for promoting cancer prevention and survivorship, in addition to overall benefits to heart health, and maintaining a healthy weight.

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  • Ask the Nutritionist

    • Do you have questions about making healthy food choices during and after cancer treatment? Our team of nutrition experts can help. Submit your question through our Ask the Nutritionist form.
    • To create a customized plan, please schedule an appointment with a Dana-Farber nutritionist by calling 617-632-3006.
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