The ketogenic diet or “keto diet” is now being evaluated for its potential role in both cancer prevention and treatment. There are several questions to consider, however. Cancer is not a single disease but a broad collection of diseases, and the keto diet may be helpful with one type or molecular subtype but harmful in another. The answers may vary as well depending on how it may affect risk prevention, treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, survival, or risk of recurrence. We will look at the research to date, potential benefits, side effects, risks, and contraindications. Importantly, if you are living with cancer it’s essential to talk to your oncologist before beginning any type of diet. The ketogenic diet also called the “keto diet” is a diet that is high in fat, low in carbohydrates, and is protein “neutral,” often having a slightly higher amount of protein than the typical Western diet. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to burn fat instead of sugar glucose for the body’s energy source. When carbohydrate intake is significantly reduced, the body switches to burning fat, a process keto-adaptation that produces ketone bodies. This nutritional ketosis differs from the diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition many people are familiar with. The ketogenic has been found to lead to weight loss, at least over the short term.
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