Study shows low-carb diet may reduce cancer risk and tumor growth

Jun
2011
14

posted by on blog, Health, Low-Carb, News

4 comments

A recent study, conducted by British Columbia Cancer Research Centre, showed that a low-carbohydrate diet may slow the growth of tumors and reduce the risk of cancer. Lead researcher Gerald Krystal, Ph.D., and his team, implanted mice with various strains of human tumor cells or with mouse tumor cells. The mice were then given one of two diets. The typical Western (high-carb) diet consisted of  about 55 percent carbohydrate, 23 percent protein and 22 percent fat. The low-carb diet contained 15 percent carbohydrate, 58 percent protein and 26 percent fat. The tumors in mice on the low-carb diet grew consistently slower than those on the high-carb diet. Below is another eye-opening finding, which I’ve quoted from this Science Daily article.

“As well, mice genetically predisposed to breast cancer were put on these two diets and almost half of them on the Western diet developed breast cancer within their first year of life while none on the low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet did. Interestingly, only one on the Western diet reached a normal life span (approximately 2 years), with 70 percent of them dying from cancer while only 30 percent of those on the low-carbohydrate diet developed cancer and more than half these mice reached or exceeded their normal life span.”

As someone already at a higher risk for breast cancer, this only reinforces the belief that I’ve made the correct lifestyle choice. I’m now 6 years post-biopsy and I believe my diet has helped me avoid the dreaded C word. In 4 more years I can consider myself out of the danger zone and hopefully go back a time when cancer wasn’t constantly in the back of my mind.

I also find it very alarming that only one mouse on the high-carb diet lived it’s full life expectancy. Now I haven’t seen the abstract, or full text of this study. I don’t know exactly what was fed to the mice. Mice are going to be ill if you feed them foods they weren’t evolved to eat. Same with any other animal. So another variable in this experiment could be that the mice were fed foods that are not part of their natural diet, and that could surely have ended their lives just as easily. But as I said, I’m not sure what they were fed. I can say that I’m not surprised that the different macro ratios made such a difference in the two groups. I also wonder if the low-carb group would have had even better results had the protein been backed down a little and the fat increased.

Krystal and his colleagues also tested an mTOR inhibitor (inhibits cell growth) and a COX-2 inhibitor (reduces inflammation) and learned these items had a beneficial effect on the low-carb mice. One can only speculate that it did little to nothing on the mice that consumed the high-carb diet, since they weren’t mentioned. As many low-carbers probably already know, cancer feeds on sugar (glucose). Without that excess of insulin and blood glucose, the immune system can do it’s job properly and tumors tend to starve (hopefully to death).

While this certainly isn’t a cure, it’s a step in the right direction. As Cancer Research editor-in-chief George Prendergast, Ph.D., told Science Daily,  “Many cancer patients are interested in making changes in areas that they can control, and this study definitely lends credence to the idea that a change in diet can be beneficial.” Indeed Mr. Prendergast. Indeed.

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  • Lori B

    I have the BRCA-2 gene mutation, and in 2006 was diagnosed with bc. (Happy 50th birthday :-/ ) To be safe, I had a double mastectomy, and since I was at a higher risk for ovarian cancer, had a full hysterectomy done. 

    You know, it wasn’t really a surprise because there was so much cancer in my immediate family that I think I’d been waiting for it to happen. (not a great mental attitude, I’d have to say!) I don’t dwell on it a lot, but what if we all knew about that German cancer research by Warburg, and I had been on a low-carb diet for most of my adult life? Or even after my surgery and during chemo? It makes me wonder. 

    And congrats on 6 healthy years! :-) I’ve been low-carbing since 2008, and I’m with you – it’s very reassuring to read these kind of studies, we’re on the right path!

  • http://www.healthylowcarbliving.com Amy Dungan

    Thanks Lori! I was told that the 10 years after a biopsy were the most critical, so I’m on the downhill side now. :)

    I’m sorry to hear about all you’ve gone through, but I’m certainly glad to hear you are okay! I hope that someday we can say that cancer is virtually non-existent, until then we have to keep education ourselves and doing all we know to do at the time. Keep up the great work of taking care of yourself!

  • Lori B

    I’m waiting for next spring when I hit the 5 year mark after completing treatment, but I know I’m clear anyway. No more bad attitudes! :-)

     

  • Lori B

    I’m waiting for next spring when I hit the 5 year mark after completing treatment, but I know I’m clear anyway. No more bad attitudes! :-)