We've been advocating a Keto Program from DAY #1 on this website. The "truth" is out. Get on it!Cancer dogma holds that most malignancies are caused by DNA mutations inside the nuclei of cells, mutations that ultimately lead to runaway cellular proliferation. Given the countless genetic blips that have been associated with various cancers, the illness has actually come to be seen as a complex of diseases for which personalized treatments might offer the best chances of success.But prevailing oncology orthodoxy has its detractors, and some cancer biologists feel that while mutations are nearly ubiquitous in cancer, they may not always be the driving force for disease. Cancer, they suggest, might actually be as much a disorder of altered energy production as it is genetic damage.
This idea traces back to the work of German physician Otto Warburg who, in the 1920s, reported that rather than generating energy using the oxygen-based process of respiration as healthy cells do, cancer cells prefer the anaerobic, or oxygen-free, process of fermentation. Not all products of fermentation are as welcome as beer, wine and cheese.
Matthew Vander Heiden, a biologist at MIT and oncologist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, also says many factors are necessary to induce cancer, including what could be considered the other major theory on the origin of malignancies, that they result from the impairment of signaling pathways that control cell division. “My guess is it’s probably metabolic, and it’s probably genetic and it’s probably cell signaling. I’m not sure you can separate these out since they all appear to be so interrelated,” he explains.
Regardless of the initial cancer trigger, the ultimate end of the biomedical bickering is to help patients. And as Vander Heiden points out, not only are researchers and pharmaceutical companies already developing drugs that target metabolic pathways, such drugs have been around for some time. “I think targeting metabolic pathways in cancer is a great idea. We already have five or six mainstay chemotherapies that yes, attack cell division machinery, but also target metabolism ” explains Vander Heiden, “They’re just not billed that way.”Seyfried is skeptical that medicines alone will cure cancer. Instead he and many of his colleagues — including Dr. Eugene Fine from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and University of Pittsburgh neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon — are focusing on the potential of dietary approaches to contain the disease.
There’s particular interest in the ketogenic diet, similar to the low-carb Atkins diet that is low in sugar and high in fat. It’s intended to starve cancer cells of the glucose they use for fermentation. “The drugs we have now are so toxic and there’s no reason people should have to be poisoned to be healthy. There are a number of studies, including those we’ve published, showing a direct relationship between the ketogenic diet and slowed tumor growth,” says Seyfried, also citing the work of Dr. Valter Longo, of the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Gerontology. That work shows that low-calorie diets are linked with slowed tumor growth and improved response to chemotherapy. “Why spend all this money going after all these different pathways involved in cancer when you can simply go after the key fuels?” Seyfried asks.
The idea of fighting cancer by changing what patients eat has obvious appeal, but it also raises worries. “I get a little scared when people start talking about diet for cancer since you can quickly get into pseudoscience here,” Mayo’s Thompson counters. He points out that data supporting the ketogenic diet in cancer are limited — and further that rigorous dietary studies are incredibly hard to pull off. “The drug companies aren’t going to fund these types of trials,” he says. “They can’t make money marketing a diet.” Vander Heiden is also wary of many dietary claims, in part because of biased expectations. “It seems that people have often decided what diet they think is best before they do a study,” he says. “There’s a difference between setting out to prove something is a good therapy and asking what therapy is best.”
His own work has shown that certain dietary interventions can be more effective than drugs at treating cancer in mice, but he says panacean claims about the ketogenic diet specifically are a bit premature. “I think it’s a really interesting hypothesis that should continue to be tested, but to claim that cancer is all metabolic or all genetic is probably incorrect,” he says. “Usually in science when you have something as complex as cancer, ascribing it to one particular cause is often going too far.” Even Seyfried acknowledges, despite his zeal for treating cancer by tinkering with calories, that in all likelihood diet and nutrient-based cancer treatments will serve as adjuncts to existing therapies. But what would be wrong with that? “We’re slowing the tumor down and making it extremely vulnerable to lower, less-toxic doses of available drugs,” he says, “When people are locked into an ideology created by a dogma they tend not to focus on rational alternatives.” SOURCE