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Long-term ketogenic food plan boosts survival rates in advanced cancer patients

Long-term ketogenic food plan boosts survival rates in advanced cancer patients

In a recent study published within the journal Nutrients, researchers explore the potential long-term effects of a ketogenic food plan in cancer patients.

Study: Long-Term Effects of a Ketogenic Weight-reduction plan for Cancer. Image Credit: Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock.com

The health advantages of the keto food plan

The ketogenic food plan is a high-fat and low-carbohydrate food plan that has been used as a dietary treatment for certain central nervous system (CNS) diseases, akin to refractory seizure syndrome. Previously, researchers have assessed the results of the ketogenic food plan on malignant tumors, with animal studies on mouse models revealing that this food plan can improve survival outcomes.

Moreover, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in humans with ovarian and endometrial cancer have shown that the ketogenic food plan can improve their physical quality of life, in addition to reduce each fat mass and blood insulin levels.Nevertheless, despitee these observations, the potential association between the ketogenic food plan and improved overall survival (OS) outcomes in cancer patients has remained controversial as a consequence of variations within the study design or lack of generalizability.

In regards to the study

Osaka University Hospital conducted a case-series study to look at the impact of the ketogenic food plan on patients with advanced cancer between February 2013 and December 2018. The study involved patients diagnosed with stage IV cancer through histology or cytology, with a performance status of two or less, and were capable of devour food orally.

Through the first week of the study, study participants followed a really strict carbohydrate restriction of lower than 10 grams every day. Carbohydrate intake was limited to twenty g/day for 3 months ranging from the second week.

Patients who desired to proceed the ketogenic food plan limited their carbohydrate intake to 30 g/day or less after three months. The patients’ progress was constantly observed during and after their adherence to the ketogenic food plan. Patient follow-up continued until March 2023.

The first study outcomes were OS and tumor size three months after following a ketogenic food plan using positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) imaging. Clinical responses noted one yr after initiating the ketogenic food plan were considered secondary endpoints.

Keto food plan improves survival outcomes 

The researchers began the study with 55 patients who met the entry criteria; nevertheless, 37 of those patients continued to abide by the ketogenic food plan for at the very least three months and obtained imaging results to evaluate tumor progression throughout the study period. The common age of the study cohort was about 56 years at the beginning of the study.

For the 37 patients who continued to devour a ketogenic food plan for over three months, the common starting age was about 55 years, and the follow-up period was about 25 months. Twenty-eight patients died throughout the follow-up period, thereby leading to a five-year survival rate of 23.9% or median OS of 25.1 months.

When patients were stratified based on cancer type, eight patients with colon cancer and 6 patients with lung cancer remained on the keto food plan for greater than three months. The mean age of those patients at the start of the study was 49.3 and 56.7 years, with six and 4 deaths reported in these patient groups, respectively.

Three-month albumin (Alb), C-reactive protein (CRP), and blood glucose levels were significant predictors of survival in cancer patients three months after starting the ketogenic food plan. Similar results were obtained for the patients’ ketogenic food plan ABC (KD-ABC) rating, which is calculated based on Alb, CRP, and blood glucose levels. More specifically, albumin levels of 4.0 mg/dL or less, blood glucose levels of 90 mg/dL or less, CRP levels of 0.5 mg/dL or less, and a KD rating between zero and three correlated with patient outcomes.


The study findings indicate that a ketogenic food plan may significantly improve OS amongst cancer patients. Nevertheless, as a consequence of the small size of the present study and its retrospective nature, prospective and controlled trials with larger patient populations are needed in the long run. Moreover, additional research is required to elucidate the mechanisms by which the ketogenic food plan may reduce tumor burden and improve survival outcomes in cancer patients.

Journal reference:

  • Egashira, R., Matsunaga, M., Miyake, A., et al. (2023). Long-Term Effects of a Ketogenic Weight-reduction plan for Cancer. Nutrients 15(10). doi:10.3390/nu15102334


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