A recent review published in Nutrients has explored the therapeutic potential of the ketogenic diet (KD) for breast cancer (BC) treatment. BC, the most common cancer in women, is greatly influenced by dietary patterns. The ketogenic diet, characterized by a high-fat and low-carbohydrate intake, has gained interest as a potential treatment option.
The review aimed to comprehensively analyze existing data on the association between the ketogenic diet and breast cancer, including preclinical animal studies, randomized controlled trials, case-control studies, cohort studies, and clinical studies. The researchers reviewed publications from various databases such as Scopus, PubMed/MedLine, Cochrane Library, Google Scholar, and Web of Science, excluding studies not published in English, editorials, commentaries, and inaccessible studies.
It has been observed that changes in dietary patterns and the consumption of ultra-processed food items, particularly animal-based nutrition, are connected to the incidence of breast cancer. Factors such as adiposity and energy homeostasis play a crucial role in breast cancer risk. Recent research has shed light on the impact of dietary variables on specific types of breast cancer, such as estrogen receptor-negative (ER-negative) breast cancer.
Hypercaloric diets, consisting of processed and red meats, fatty foods, and carbohydrates, increase the risk of breast cancer by elevating circulating estrogen levels, inflammatory cytokines, and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels. On the other hand, healthy dietary habits, including the consumption of vegetables and fruits high in fiber, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to improve health outcomes by reducing DNA damage and chronic inflammation.
In the Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS), women who received nutritional treatments and reduced their fat intake experienced a 24% increase in relapse-free time interval compared to controls. Non-starchy vegetables may reduce the incidence of luminal B (ER-positive) breast cancer, while carotenoid-dense foods and calcium-rich diets may decrease breast cancer risk in both premenopausal and postmenopausal females. A diet rich in nutrients such as polyphenols, folates, and vitamins can also help lower breast cancer risk.
The Mediterranean diet and extra-virgin-type olive oil (EVOO) have shown to potentially prevent breast cancer. EVOO contains beneficial compounds such as monounsaturated fatty acids, polyphenols, and squalene. Various studies have also demonstrated the benefits of low-glycemic index diets, particularly the Mediterranean diet, in improving outcomes, cardiometabolic indices, and quality of life in breast cancer patients.
The ketogenic diet, with its ability to alter tumor cell metabolism, has gained attention as a potential adjunct therapy for breast cancer treatment. By reducing carbohydrate consumption, the ketogenic diet lowers blood sugar levels, insulin-like growth receptor signaling, and circulating insulin levels, all of which are associated with cancer development. Additionally, the ketogenic diet has a significant impact on tumor cell mitochondrial metabolism.
The ketogenic diet generates ketone bodies and reduces glucose levels in tumor cells with malfunctioning mitochondria, depriving cancer cells of energy and promoting their survival. It can also inhibit pathways that promote cancer growth, such as the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, and reduce ATP production in impaired mitochondria. Furthermore, ketone bodies have been shown to promote antioxidant gene expression and detoxification, limiting cancer cell growth.
Emerging data suggests that the ketogenic diet may have anticancer properties, including slowing tumor development, protecting healthy cells from radiation and chemotherapy damage, enhancing the effects of chemotherapy on tumor cells, and reducing inflammation. However, further clinical trials are needed to assess the safety and long-term implications of ketosis.
It is important to note that the ketogenic diet may have potential long-term side effects, including metabolic alterations, elevated blood lipid levels, hepatic steatosis, kidney stones, hypoproteinemia, and coenzyme deficiencies. Therefore, close monitoring and individualized approaches are necessary in implementing the ketogenic diet for breast cancer treatment.
In conclusion, the review highlights the potential benefits of the ketogenic diet as a complementary treatment for breast cancer. The ketogenic diet alters tumor cell metabolism, induces metabolic stress on cancer cells, and helps modulate inflammation and oxidative stress. However, more research is needed to fully understand the efficacy and long-term effects of the ketogenic diet in breast cancer treatment.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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