Ketogenic Diet and Cancer

In this piece, I will first show the evidence supporting the claim that Keto animal-based diets do not improve cancer patients outcome (Section A). Thereafter, i will prove that in most cases,  keto animal based diets spur cancer growth (Section B). And when they don’t, it’s usually because these diets are accompanied by other more holistic techniques like caloric restricion and-or hyperbaric oxygen, with lots of plant-based superfood, On the other hand, keto-vegan diets are much more sucessful in stopping cancer cell growth  (Section C) 

Section A

 Conventional animal-based Keto diets have few if any long term benefits

Recent findings from multiple meta-analyses

Conventional keto diet  is characterized by a low under 30 grams of carbs with 70 to 80 percent fat, mostly animal fat and the rest proteins, mostly animal flesh.

In this perspective, a meta-analysis from 2018 published by the Journal Lancet found that people who ate low-carb  animal-based diets had a significant shorter lifespan while those who  had a plant-based diet lived much longer. This meta-analysis concerned over 400,000 people studied for 25 years.

Low carbohydrate dietary patterns favouring animal-derived protein and fat sources, from sources such as lamb, beef, pork, and chicken, were associated with higher mortality, whereas those that favoured plant-derived protein and fat intake, from sources such as vegetables, nuts, peanut butter, and whole-grain breads, were associated with lower mortality, suggesting that the source of food notably modifies the association between carbohydrate intake and mortality”. (August 2018 Lancet)

A second meta-analysis, also from 2018, confirmed that people who ate the lowest-carb diets had a 32% increased risk of death from ANY cause than those eating the highest amount of carbs. The researchers also found that low-carb dieters had a 51% increased risk of dying from heart disease and a 35% increased risk of dying from cancer, compared to people who ate the most carbohydrates.

“The results were confirmed in a meta-analysis of seven prospective cohort studies with 447,506 participants and an average follow-up 15.6 years, which found 15%, 13%, and 8% increased risks in total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality with low (compared to high) carbohydrate diets”. (Source)

In this perspective, on 28 Aug 2018, at the ESC Congress in Germany, the study author Professor Maciej Banach, of the Medical University of Lodz, Poland, declared the following:

 “Low carbohydrate diets might be useful in the short term to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve blood glucose control, but our study suggests that in the long-term they are linked with an increased risk of death from any cause, and deaths due to cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer.” (Source) (1)

The Congress experts’ conclusion is that low-carb diets are not safe and should be avoided.

“Low carbohydrate diets are unsafe and should be avoided, according to a large study presented today at ESC Congress 2018″. (1)

In 2016, the results of the NUSI metabolic ward study were published, where low carb diets were tested against low-fat diets for weight loss in humans. And they found that low-fat diets worked betterSource).

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Cancer with ketogenic diet

There are a few studies in which researchers implanted human gliomas (brain cancer) into the bodies of rats and reported that the rats lived longer on a ketogenic diet.

In a 2012 study, rats with human brain cancer implanted in their bodies achieved complete remission when fed a keto meal replacement shake called KetoCal (KC) and treated with radiation. Rats treated with a ketogenic diet (KetoCal) but without radiation only lived 5 days longer than standard diet rats.

“KC significantly enhances the anti-tumor effect of radiation. This suggests that cellular metabolic alterations induced through KC may be useful as an adjuvant to the current standard of care for the treatment of human malignant gliomas”.  (Source) (2)

However, it is not clear whether this studies are animal-based keto diets or plant-based keto diets.

In yet another 2013 study, rats with human brain cancer implanted in their bodies lived 56% longer on a ketogenic diet, combined with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. “56% longer” for the keto+oxygen therapy survival was 55 days compared to the control rats who lived 31 days. And all the rats still died of cancer.

But what works with rodents may not with humans.

In this pilot study, 16 human patients with advanced cancer concluded that the ketogenic diet ” might improve aspects of quality of life and blood parameters,” but the patients did not live longer and none were cured. The rationale supporting this study is as follows:

Tumor patients exhibit an increased peripheral demand of fatty acids and protein. Contrarily, tumors utilize glucose as their main source of energy supply. Thus, a diet supplying the cancer patient with sufficient fat and protein for his demands while restricting the carbohydrates (CHO) tumors thrive on, could be a helpful strategy in improving the patients’ situation. A ketogenic diet (KD) fulfills these requirements. Therefore, we performed a pilot study to investigate the feasibility of a KD and its influence on the quality of life of patients with advanced metastatic tumors”

The Results were mediocre: And again, it’s not clear if this keto-diet is plant or animal based.

“One patient did not tolerate the diet and dropped out within 3 days. Among those who tolerated the diet, two patients died early, one stopped after 2 weeks due to personal reasons, one felt unable to stick to the diet after 4 weeks, one stopped after 6 and two stopped after 7 and 8 weeks due to progress of the disease, one had to discontinue after 6 weeks to resume chemotherapy and five completed the 3 month intervention period. These five and the one who resumed chemotherapy after 6 weeks report an improved emotional functioning and less insomnia, while several other parameters of quality of life remained stable or worsened, reflecting their very advanced disease. Except for temporary constipation and fatigue, we found no severe adverse side effects, especially no changes in cholesterol or blood lipids.  (Source)

Yet another study found that a ketogenic diet helped anti-angiogenic chemo drug bevacizumab work a little better for glioblastoma in humans, but had no effect alone(Source)

According to a 2015 review of the literature on the ketogenic diet for human glioma patients (32 case studies), the following was seen: Prolonged remissions ranging from more than 5 years to 4 months were reported in the case reports. Only one of these patients was treated using the ketogenic diet as monotherapy. The best responses reported in the more recent patient series were stable disease for approximately 6 weeks.

We conclude that 1. KD is safe and without major side effects; 2. ketosis can be induced using customary foods; 3. treatment with KD may be effective in controlling the progression of some gliomas; and 4. further studies are needed to determine factors that influence the effectiveness of KD, whether as a monotherapy, or as adjunctive or supplemental therapy in treating glioma patients” (Source) See also NCT01535911

The ketogenic diet can speed up cancer growth.

Short term, a low carb keto diet can slow down the cancer, but eventually, the tumor adapts to ketones and uses this new fuel to grow and even worsen health. A few pieces of evidence.

A 2017 study published in Cell found that a genetic mutation called BRAF V600E allows cancer cells to use ketones to grow faster. This mutation is present in 50% of melanomas, 10% of colon cancers, 100% of hairy cell leukemias, and 5% of multiple myelomas.

A 2018 study found that the ketogenic diet, combined with PI3K-inhibiting drugs, slowed tumor growth in mice better than the drug alone. But the mice given the ketogenic diet alone had accelerated progression of acute myeloid leukemia.

Fats fuel aggressive brain cancers

Yet another 2018 study found that fat fuels aggressive brain cancers. Slow-dividing glioblastoma cells, which are more invasive and resistant to chemo and radiotherapy than the fast dividing cells, use fat (not glucose) for energy.

check two studies

“In a recent study, we compared glioblastoma cells and how fast they divided. And we saw that there were remarkable differences in the division rate of these tumour cells. This led us to classify glioblastoma cells into faster-dividing and slower-dividing cancer cells and we investigated these further. Intuitively, we expected faster-dividing cells to be more aggressive, as they cause a tumour to grow more rapidly. But surprisingly, we found that glioblastoma cells that are dividing slower were more likely to resist chemotherapy. (…) Likewise, slower cells were more likely to move away from the main tumour, making them harder to remove surgically. Genetic signatures of these slower cells resemble signatures of “recurrent” glioblastoma, which indicates that slower cells may in fact be the ones that cause tumours to regrow. (….) Interestingly, the genetic signatures of “recurrent” glioblastomas and slower dividing glioblastoma cells were similar and revealed an increased dependence on fats for energy consumption of these tumours. (…)In our study, we also identified a certain transport protein for fatty acids that is specific to slower-dividing glioblastoma  cells. An important question arising from our work is whether this transport protein carries specific types of fatty acids into these tumour cells, and if this can be stopped for future therapies of glioblastoma. We used an experimental drug to block this transport protein, which was effective in our models in combination with treatments targeting faster dividing cells. It is too early to tell whether this drug could one day be effective in the clinic, but based on our findings, it seems a question that is worth exploring”. (Source)

Meta-Analyses Evidence

In a recent December 2018, a meta analysis of all of the available published studies using the ketogenic diet for cancer in humans found that clinical trials using the ketogenic diet for cancer have “largely failed to prove survival prolonging effects.” But the author hypothesized that the ketogenic diet still might have “potential” if combined with chemotherapy. (Source)

This 2012 study showed that tumors can use ketones for fuel.

Our data provide the necessary genetic evidence that ketone body production and re-utilization drive tumor progression and metastasis. As such, ketone inhibitors should be designed as novel therapeutics to effectively treat advanced cancer patients, with tumor recurrence and metastatic disease. In summary, ketone bodies behave as onco-metabolites, and we directly show that the enzymes HMGCS2, ACAT1/2 and OXCT1/2 are bona fide metabolic oncogenes”. (Source)

The ketogenic diet has repeatedly been shown NOT to cure cancer as a monotherapy in rodents or humans.

More evidence pending



As a monotherapy nope, as an adjuncvanti, depends

owever, there is tremendous value in short-term ketosis. The natural process of ketosis – induced by a 3-5 day water fast or the plant-based ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet for example – has powerful benefits in the body, including autophagy, as well as stem cell activation and immune system regeneration. You can learn more about that in my interview with world-renowned scientist and longevity expert Dr. Valter Longo here.

Keto Diet and Cancer Modulation

the ketogenic diet is a diet comprised of 70-80% fat, “moderate” (too much) protein, and almost zero carbohydrates.

A true ketogenic diet keeps your body in ketosis 24/7, and requires daily measurement of ketone levels in your urine. Ketosis is difficult to maintain and the term “ketogenic diet” is now widely used by misinformed people who are actually eating a low-carb diet, without being in ketosis.

Obesity is the second leading cause of cancer. If you are overweight, getting back down to a healthy weight range with a normal BMI will improve your health, and reduce your risk factors for cancer and many other chronic diseases. I have never met a doctor or health expert who didn’t agree with that statement.

It can also be said that every weight loss method improves various aspects of your health, in the short term. Typical improvements related to weight loss are reductions in inflammation, hormone levels, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose, even reversal of type 2 diabetes, and more.

ou can lose weight quickly by smoking crack and crystal meth. And any health issues you have, which are related to being overweight, will likely resolve because you lost weight!

There is no population of people on earth who eat a ketogenic diet and have exceptional health and long lifespans. Even the Inuits/Eskimos, who eat high fat diets, are not in ketosis. And they have short lifespans to boot!

Finding new and more effective therapies for glioblastoma is very difficult for many reasons. Glioblastoma cells can move far away from the main tumour into the healthy brain, which makes complete surgical removal of the cancer impossible. These cancers are typically also very resistant to current drugs and radiation therapy. As a result, glioblastomas usually regrow after treatment, and these “recurrent” tumours tend to resist all efforts to treat them and ultimately cause the patient’s demise.

The so-called “blood-brain barrier” prevents many anti-cancer drugs that work well in other organs from entering the brain in the first place. This severely limits the number of drugs that can be applied. Glioblastomas are also very dissimilar between patients, and no genes are known that are mutated in all glioblastomas. Even within a tumour in a single patient, there are large differences in the tumour cells themselves. It is these differences between tumour cells that we wanted to understand better.


Since the 1920s it has been hypothesised that cancers predominantly rely on a less effective way than normal cells of using sugars for their energy support. This is known as the Warburg effect.

Our research shows this to be true for faster-dividing cells, but not for slower cells, which mainly use fats as their source of energy. In experimental models, we could show that withholding sugars affects only the faster-dividing cells. Conversely, in experiments where we blocked the metabolism of slower-dividing cells, their faster counterparts continued to grow unchecked. When we combined treatments to stop both faster and slower dividing cells in experimental models, we found that this was most effective to stop the tumours from growing.

Despite the widespread myth that “cancer cells can’t use fat for fuel,” they most certainly can and do. Many types of cancer cells are metabolically flexible. If you starve them of glucose, it can weaken or slow them down temporarily. But they will eventually adapt to using fatty acids or amino acids for fuel by upregulating various pathways like F.A.S. (Fatty Acid Synthesis), SREBP 1 and 2 (sterol regulating end binding proteins), mTOR, Glutaminolysis, and more.


ell Cycle. 2012 Nov 1; 11(21): 3964–3971.
PMCID: PMC3507492
PMID: 23082722

Ketone body utilization drives tumor growth and metastasis

Ubaldo E. Martinez-Outschoorn, 1 , 2 , 3 Zhao Lin, 1 , 2 Diana Whitaker-Menezes, 1 , 2 Anthony Howell, 4 Federica Sotgia,1 , 2 , 4 ,* and Michael P. Lisanti 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ,*

Associated Data

Supplementary Materials
Additional material.
Cell Cycle. 2010 Sep 1; 9(17): 3506–3514.
Published online 2010 Sep 1. doi: 10.4161/cc.9.17.12731
PMCID: PMC3047616
PMID: 20818174

Ketones and lactate “fuel” tumor growth and metastasis

Evidence that epithelial cancer cells use oxidative mitochondrial metabolism

Associated Data

Supplementary Materials
Supplementary Material


While Med diet especially improves…vegan based keto good too, key family allium and cruciferous, but also much more, schedule a Coaching for more


(1) This study prospectively examined the relationship between low carbohydrate diets, all-cause death, and deaths from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (including stroke), and cancer in a nationally representative sample of 24,825 participants of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during 1999 to 2010. Compared to participants with the highest carbohydrate consumption, those with the lowest intake had a 32% higher risk of all-cause death over an average 6.4-year follow-up. In addition, risks of death from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer were increased by 51%, 50%, and 35%, respectively (Source)

(2). The ketogenic diet (KD) is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that alters metabolism by increasing the level of ketone bodies in the blood. KetoCal® (KC) is a nutritionally complete, commercially available 4∶1 (fat∶ carbohydrate+protein) ketogenic formula that is an effective non-pharmacologic treatment for the management of refractory pediatric epilepsy. Diet-induced ketosis causes changes to brain homeostasis that have potential for the treatment of other neurological diseases such as malignant gliomas



Side Effects

Exogenous ketone supplements are generally considered to be a safe and effective way to increase ketone body concentrations, but the long-term effects are unknown (9).

Reported side effects are more common with ketone salts than ketone esters and include nausea, diarrhea and stomach discomfort (7, 17, 23).

Ketone supplements reportedly have a poor aftertaste as well (24).

Moreover, achieving ketosis with ketone salts is not recommended due to the high amounts of minerals you’d ingest (11).

One serving of ketone salts provides (22):

  • 680 mg of sodium (27% of the DV)
  • 320 mg magnesium (85% of the DV)
  • 590 mg of calcium (57% of the DV)

However, to maintain ketosis, you’ll need to take a dose every two to three hours, doubling or tripling these numbers.

Manufacturers of ketone supplements recommend taking up to three servings per day.

But while ketone supplements can still help you maintain ketosis even after a meal, the rise in levels of blood ketones is much less than if you were in a fast or didn’t consume a carb-containing meal (15).


The side effects associated with ketone supplements range from stomach discomfort to diarrhea. Because these supplements are also bound to salts, consuming too much is not recommended.

Ketone supplements are claimed to put your body into ketosis without having to follow a ketogenic diet.

One study found that exogenous ketone supplements may decrease appetite for over four hours when taken in a fasted state, but other research suggests that they may hinder weight loss efforts.

Until more research is available, there’s no real support for using ketone supplements as a weight loss aid.

The ketogenic or keto diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet.

Being on the diet for several days puts your body into ketosis, a nutritional state characterized by raised blood ketones and weight loss (1).



What Happens in the Body During Ketosis?

If you follow a standard high-carb diet, your body’s cells typically rely on glucose for fuel.

Glucose comes from the carbs in your diet, including sugars and starchy foods like bread, pasta and some vegetables.

If you restrict those foods, as with a ketogenic diet, you force your body to look for alternative fuel sources.

Your body then turns to fat for fuel, which produces ketone bodies when broken down in excess.

This shift in metabolism puts your body in a state of ketosis.

Most people naturally experience a mild state of ketosis during periods of fasting or strenuous exercise (2, 3).

The two main ketone bodies produced during ketosis are acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate. Acetone is a third, less abundant, ketone body (4).

These ketone bodies replace glucose as fuel and provide your brain, heart and muscles with energy.

It’s thought that the ketone bodies themselves may be responsible for the weight loss associated with a ketogenic diet (5).

Thus, ketones found in supplements are exogenous ketones.

These supplements contain only the beta-hydroxybutyrate ketone. The other primary ketone body, acetoacetate, is not chemically stable as a supplement.

There are two main forms of ketone supplements:

  • Ketone salts: These are ketones bound to a salt, typically sodium, potassium, calcium or magnesium. They’re most often found in powder form and mixed with liquid.
  • Ketone esters: These are ketones linked to another compound called an ester and packaged in liquid form. Ketone esters are used primarily in research and aren’t as readily available for purchase as ketone salts (6).

Both forms of ketone supplements have been shown to increase blood ketone levels, mimicking what happens in ketosis when you follow a ketogenic diet (7, 8, 9, 10).

In one study, supplementing with approximately 12 grams (12,000 mg) of ketone salts increased participants’ blood ketone levels by over 300% (8).

For reference, most available ketone supplements contain 8–12 grams of ketones per serving.

The symptoms that often accompany the transition to a ketogenic diet, more commonly known as the “keto flu,” include constipation, headache, bad breath, muscle cramps and diarrhea.

There’s limited research to suggest that ketone supplements can reduce these symptoms (12).

Exogenous Ketones May Decrease Appetite

Ketone supplements have been shown to decrease appetite, which may help you lose weight by eating less.

In one study in 15 people of normal weight, those drinking a beverage containing ketone esters experienced 50% less hunger after an overnight fast than those drinking a sugary beverage (13).

This appetite-suppressing effect was attributed to lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin between two and four hours after drinking the ketone ester drink (13).

Ketones Inhibit Fat Breakdown. danger

The purpose of the ketogenic diet for weight loss is to produce ketones from stored fat as an alternative fuel source.

But if your ketone blood levels become too high, your blood can become dangerously acidic.


Feedback mechanism.

Just like testosterone, exogenous and makes less, testicule shrivel up, likewith with melotonin and pineal gland…couter….effect…

To prevent this, healthy people have a feedback mechanism that slows down production of ketones if they become excessively high (12, 15, 17, 18).

In other words, the higher your blood ketone levels are, the less your body produces. As a result, taking ketone supplements may prevent body fat from being used as fuel, at least in the short term (19, 20).

Ketones Contain Calories

Your body can use ketones as a fuel source, meaning they have calories.

They contain about four calories per gram, the same number of calories as carbs or protein.

A single serving of exogenous ketone salts typically contains less than 100 calories, but to maintain a state of ketosis, you’ll need several servings each day.

That’s because the effect of ketone supplements lasts only a few hours and thus requires repeated doses throughout the day to maintain a state of ketosis (17, 21).

Not to mention, at upwards of $3 per serving, they can become costly, too (22).


Ketone supplements themselves are not ketogenic because they prevent your body from producing its own ketones. They’re also a source of calories, which, depending on how many servings you have, may not be worthwhile for weight loss.

LESS fat better breast cancer


Breast cancer patients who adopt a low-fat diet are more likely to survive for at least a 10 years after diagnosis, compared to patients who eat a higher fat diet.

According to lead researcher Dr. Rowan Chlebowski, this study “found yet another health benefit to eating a low-fat diet, and more fruits and vegetables… postmenopausal women on a low-fat diet who were diagnosed with breast cancer lived longer.”

His team also noted that the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study already found that women who ate a low-fat diet were at lower odds of developing more aggressive forms of breast cancer.

Chlebowski’s team looked at WHI data on nearly 49,000 postmenopausal women tracked by 40 clinical centers across the United States to research the effects of a low-fat diet on breast cancer survival.

The women were randomly selected to stick with their regular diet (a third or more of daily calories from fat) or to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and to aim for less than 20 percent of calories from fat.

Over the 8.5 years of the diet study, 1,764 of the women developed breast cancer. Outcomes for these women were tracked for an average of 11.5 years after their diagnosis.

Overall, survival for women who stuck with the low-fat diet was 22 percent higher compared to women who continued with their usual higher fat diet.

68 women in the low-fat diet group died of breast cancer, compared to 120 women in the regular-diet group. The low-fat group also had a 24% lower risk of dying from other cancers as well.

They were also less likely to die of other causes, especially heart disease. 64 women who ate fattier diets died of heart disease during the study period, while only 27 women died of heart disease in the low-fat diet group.

The take-home message, according to Chlebowski: “Following a low-fat diet — at any point in your life — can have tremendous health benefits.”

Comments from Chris

This lines up with the dietary approach that I and many others have followed to heal cancer.

Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, a high-fat diet is not the best diet for cancer prevention and healing.

The best evidence-based anticancer diet is a naturally low-fat, plant-based diet of whole foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains (like oats!), preferably organic.

I talk about this dietary approach to healing cancer on this site, in interviews with holistic cancer survivors, in my book, and in my SQUARE ONE course.

Related article: The evidence against a ketogenic diet for cancer

Article sources




↓ Full text

Low-Fat Dietary Pattern and Breast Cancer Mortality in the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Trial.

Randomized controlled trial

Chlebowski RT, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2017.

Show full citation


Purpose Earlier Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification trial findings suggested that a low-fat eating pattern may reduce breast cancers with greater mortality. Therefore, as a primary outcome-related analysis from a randomized prevention trial, we examined the long-term influence of this intervention on deaths as a result of and after breast cancer during 8.5 years (median) of dietary intervention and cumulatively for all breast cancers diagnosed during 16.1 years (median) of follow-up. Patients and Methods The trial randomly assigned 48,835 postmenopausal women with normal mammograms and without prior breast cancer from 1993 to 1998 at 40 US clinical centers to a dietary intervention with goals of a reduction of fat intake to 20% of energy and an increased intake of fruits, vegetables, and grains (40%; n = 19,541) or to a usual diet comparison (60%; n = 29,294). Results In the dietary group, fat intake and body weight decreased (all P < .001). During the 8.5-year dietary intervention, with 1,764 incident breast cancers, fewer deaths occurred as a result of breast cancer in the dietary group, which was not statistically significant (27 deaths [0.016% per year] v 61 deaths [0.024% per year]; hazard ratio [HR], 0.67; 95% CI, 0.43 to 1.06; P = .08). During the same period, deaths after breast cancer (n = 134) were significantly reduced (40 deaths [0.025% per year] v 94 deaths [0.038% per year]; HR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.45 to 0.94; P = .02) by the dietary intervention. During the 16.1-year follow-up, with 3,030 incident breast cancers, deaths after breast cancer also were significantly reduced (234 deaths [0.085% per year] v 443 deaths [0.11% per year]; HR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.70 to 0.96; P = .01) in the dietary group. Conclusion Compared with a usual diet comparison group, a low-fat dietary pattern led to a lower incidence of deaths after breast cancer.

HURSDAY, May 24, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Breast cancer patients who adopted a low-fat diet were more likely to survive for at least a decade after diagnosis, compared to patients who ate fattier fare, new research shows.

The study has “found yet another health benefit to eating a low-fat diet, and more fruits and vegetables,” said lead researcher Dr. Rowan Chlebowski, a research professor at City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, Calif.

“Our study demonstrates that postmenopausal women on a low-fat diet who were diagnosed with breast cancer lived longer,” said Chlebowski, who works at the hospital’s department of medical oncology and therapeutics research.

As his team noted, data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study had already found that women who ate a low-fat diet were at lower odds of developing more aggressive forms of breast cancer.

But what about the effect of such diets on survival after a breast cancer diagnosis?

To find out, Chlebowski’s group looked at WHI data on nearly 49,000 postmenopausal women tracked by 40 clinical centers across the United States.

The women were randomly selected to stick with their regular diet (a third or more of daily energy supplied by fat) or to adopt a regimen with more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, where less than 20 percent of daily energy needs came from fat.

Over the 8.5 years of the diet study, 1,764 of the women developed breast cancer. Outcomes for these women were tracked for an average of 11.5 years after their diagnosis.

Overall, survival for women who stuck with the low-fat regimen was 22 percent higher compared to women who continued with their usual diet, the researchers reported May 24 in JAMA Oncology.

Looking at death from breast cancer specifically, of the 516 women who died from any cause, 68 in the low-fat diet group died of breast cancer, compared to 120 in the regular-diet group, the researchers said.

Women who ate less dietary fat were also less likely to have died of other causes, especially heart disease. While 64 women who ate fattier diets died of heart disease over the study period, that number fell to just 27 for women in the low-fat diet group, the findings showed.

The take-home message, according to Chlebowski: “Following a low-fat diet — at any point in your life — can have tremendous health benefits.”

Two breast cancer specialists who weren’t involved in the study said the findings are of real value to breast cancer survivors.

“Whether the longer life span from diet was due to a direct effect on cancer or because of overall better health, one thing that is clear is that a healthier diet can lead to longer life expectancy for both cancer survivors and for the general population,” said Dr. Stephanie Bernik. She’s chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Dr. Alice Police directs breast surgery at Northwell Health Cancer Institute in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. She noted that the WHI is a very comprehensive, rigorously conducted trial.

Police said that because many of these older women had other health issues besides breast cancer, “it is very difficult to separate out the breast cancer-related deaths as specifically due to the change in diet.”

However, she believes that, in any case, “we eat too much fat as a country and need to change that in order to live as healthily as we can and as long as we can.”

More information

Find out more about breast cancer survival at the American Cancer Society.

SOURCES: Rowan Chlebowski, M.D., Ph.D., research professor, department of medical oncology and therapeutics research, City of Hope, Duarte, Calif.; Stephanie Bernik, M.D., chief, surgical oncology, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Alice Police, M.D., Westchester regional director of breast surgery, Northwell Health Cancer Institute, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.; May 24, 2018, JAMA Oncology, online


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