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  • Harnessing Cancer Ketosis: Exploring Ketogenic Diet Benefits in Colorectal Cancer Management

Imagine a dietary approach to managing colorectal cancer that harnesses the power of cancer ketosis, a natural metabolic state. This is the ketogenic diet, a high-fat, low-carbohydrate eating plan that has shown promising results in slowing the growth of colorectal cancer cells and improving patient outcomes. In this blog post, we will explore the potential benefits of the ketogenic diet in colorectal cancer management, the role of ketosis and BHB in tumor suppression, and practical tips for implementing this dietary strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • The ketogenic diet has been linked to reduced colorectal tumor growth and improved outcomes for cancer patients.

  • BHB supplements have demonstrated potential in inhibiting the progression of colorectal cancer cells, with clinical trials underway.

  • Practical tips are provided to help implement a ketogenic diet safely and effectively, including which foods to include or avoid and how best to monitor levels of ketosis for optimal benefits.

Ketogenic Diet and Cancer: A Metabolic Approach

A photo of a variety of ketogenic diet foods including avocados, nuts, and leafy greens

The ketogenic diet, often referred to as the keto diet, is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate dietary approach that tricks the body into responding as if it were in a state of starvation. This results in the production of ketone bodies, such as acetoacetate and BHB, which serve as alternative energy sources for the brain and other tissues.

Studies have shown a close correlation between dietary habits and colorectal cancer risk. The ketogenic diet has the potential to starve colorectal tumor cells of the glucose they require to survive, possibly leading to tumor shrinkage. Still, the effectiveness of ketosis in cancer management remains under study, and it is yet to receive endorsement from any major cancer organization for prevention or treatment purposes.

BHB production during a ketogenic diet is achieved through ketogenesis, a process that occurs in the absence of glucose or in a fasted state, resulting in the breakdown of stored fats to generate ketones.

Ketosis and its effects on cancer cells

Ketosis is a metabolic process in which fat is converted into molecules called ketone bodies, which can be used as an alternative energy source by the body. This unique metabolic state has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth through various mechanisms, including:

  • Decreasing glucose availability

  • Inducing apoptosis

  • Inhibiting lactate export

  • Delaying cancer cell growth in animal models

According to research, ketosis might impact the proliferation of cancer cells, implying that a ketogenic diet could aid in curtailing the spread of various solid cancers like:

  • Colorectal cancer

  • Prostate cancer

  • Breast cancer

  • Stomach cancer

  • Liver cancer

BHB, a compound produced in the body during ketosis, has demonstrated potential in the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer.

The role of BHB in tumor suppression

BHB has been demonstrated to inhibit tumor growth by targeting specific cellular pathways and receptors. Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) has been shown to target the cellular pathways and receptors involved in tumor suppression through its binding to cell surface G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) such as HCAR2 and FFAR3, as well as acting as an epigenetic modifier, regulating the transcription of target genes through histone post-translational modifications in the promoter region.

BHB has also been observed to:

  • Suppress the inflammatory response by inhibiting the NF-κB signaling pathway

  • Suppress tumor growth by acting through the surface receptor Hcar2 and inducing the transcriptional regulator Hopx, thereby altering gene expression

  • Inhibit tumor cell proliferation and migration

  • Inhibit histone deacetylases and regulate p53 activity, further contributing to BHB’s tumor-suppressive effects

Colorectal Cancer and the Keto Diet: A Closer Look

An illustration depicting the growth of colorectal tumors

While the potential benefits of a ketogenic diet and BHB supplement in colorectal cancer prevention and treatment are intriguing, it is essential to note that these results are not definitive and should not be taken as a recommendation for using the ketogenic diet or BHB supplement to prevent or treat colorectal cancer.

Nonetheless, recent studies conducted on mice and human tissue point towards a decrease in colorectal tumor growth and enhanced outcomes when adhering to a ketogenic diet. We will now delve deeper into the correlation between a ketogenic diet and reduced colorectal tumor growth, as well as the improved outcomes for colorectal cancer patients.

Reduced colorectal tumor growth

Mice on low-carb, high-fat keto diets demonstrate remarkable resistance to colorectal tumor development and growth. The mice fed either a high fat, low carbohydrate ketogenic diet had fewer and smaller tumors than the mice that were fed a traditional diet. This suggests that ketogenic diets can help reduce cancerous tumor growth in mice. Furthermore, mice with colorectal cancer that were fed ketogenic diets had an extended lifespan.

Research suggests that a ketogenic diet positively influences the development of colorectal tumors in mice by limiting the supply of glucose to tumor cells, which could potentially hinder their growth. Moreover, mice on ketogenic diets or with β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) supplementation prior to developing colorectal cancer have been found to have improved outcomes and extended longevity.

Improved outcomes for colorectal cancer patients

In lab experiments, human colorectal cancer cells showed slowed growth when exposed to BHB. The ketogenic diet slows the growth of colorectal cancer cells by inhibiting their development and suppressing tumor growth. Research has indicated that BHB, which is produced in response to low-carb ketogenic diets, has a positive impact on colorectal cancer patient outcomes.

Studies have revealed that ketogenic diets and BHB supplementation can lead to fewer and smaller tumors, increased survival rates, and a decrease in colorectal tumor growth.

Clinical Trials and Emerging Research

Ongoing clinical trials and emerging research are delving into the possible benefits of a ketogenic diet in colorectal cancer management. Presently, a clinical trial involving a BHB-infused drink is underway to evaluate its effects on human subjects.

We will now discuss the ongoing clinical trials and encouraging results from lab experiments that are in progress, aiming to further investigate the potential benefits of a ketogenic diet in colorectal cancer management.

Current clinical trials

The intent of the clinical trial examining the BHB-laced drink on cancer patients is to assess the potential inhibitory effects of BHB on the progression of colorectal cancer. The structure of the trial may include participants with Lynch syndrome consuming the BHB-laced drink over a four-week period.

The initial findings of the BHB-laced drink clinical trial are not yet available.

Promising results from lab experiments

A photo of a laboratory setting with researchers conducting experiments

Research has demonstrated that a molecule generated in the liver in response to low-carb ketogenic diets has a potent influence in restraining colorectal tumor growth. Furthermore, the ketogenic diet:

  • Decreases the amount of available glucose for tumors

  • Transitions to the production of ketone bodies as an alternative energy source

  • Impedes the progression of colorectal cancer

Studies have also demonstrated the potential of ketogenic diets to inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells, such as the growth of human colon cancer cells being delayed by a ketogenic diet with or without omega-3 fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides in nude mice. This suggests that, in addition to weight loss, ketogenic diets may offer potential benefits in cancer management.

Potential Risks and Considerations

An illustration depicting the impact of a ketogenic diet on the microbiome

We must take into account the possible influence of a ketogenic diet on the gut microbiome of cancer patients, and also evaluate the safety and effectiveness of BHB as a dietary supplement.

We will now discuss the possible risks and considerations linked to the ketogenic diet and BHB supplementation in the management of colorectal cancer.

Impact on the microbiome

Studies have suggested that a ketogenic diet can alter the composition of the gut microbiome in cancer patients. Dysbiosis, a disruption of the gut microbiota, has been identified as a hallmark of colorectal tumorigenesis, and the gut microbiome has been found to have an influence on how patients with cancer respond to immunotherapy.

The microbiome’s influence on the body’s response to nutrients may have implications for BHB’s impact on the colon, potentially resulting in improved outcomes for colorectal cancer patients.

Safety and efficacy

According to Daschner, BHB should not be attempted at home as a dietary supplement, as its risks and benefits need further research. Potential side effects of BHB as a dietary supplement may include:

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort

  • Constipation

  • Vomiting

  • Lack of energy

  • Hunger

  • Headache

  • Loss of appetite

  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth

  • Fatigue

  • Weakness

  • Indigestion

  • Kidney stones

Research suggests that BHB supplements, particularly exogenous BHB salt supplementation and diluted free D-BHB, are safe and well-tolerated interventions for inducing sustained exogenous ketosis.

Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge that more research is required to completely understand the long-term effects and possible side effects of BHB supplementation.

Practical Tips for Implementing a Ketogenic Diet

A photo of a person monitoring ketosis levels using a blood ketone meter

Adopting a ketogenic diet involves eating certain foods, keeping track of ketosis levels, and making necessary adjustments to the diet. We will now provide practical tips for starting a ketogenic diet to maximize its potential benefits in cancer management.

Foods to include and avoid

A high fat diet, such as the ketogenic diet, includes high-fat, low-carb foods, such as fish and seafood, low-carb vegetables, cheese, plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, avocados, meat and poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats and oils. Foods to avoid due to their high carbohydrate content include bread, pasta, rice, refined carbs, starchy vegetables, beans and legumes, processed oils, and fruits high in sugar.

It is advised to consume less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day on a ketogenic diet in order to reach and sustain ketosis.

Monitoring ketosis and adjusting the diet

Regularly monitoring ketosis levels can help optimize the potential benefits of a ketogenic diet in cancer management. To monitor ketosis levels at home, one can use either a blood ketone meter or urine ketone strips. The optimal ketosis range for cancer management is approaching 1.0, and it is advised to take readings 2-3 hours after eating to accurately measure blood glucose and ketone levels.

Adjustments to the diet may be necessary based on ketosis levels, such as increasing fat intake and decreasing carbohydrate intake if ketone levels are below the optimal range, or reducing fat intake and increasing carbohydrate intake if ketone levels are above the optimal range.


In conclusion, the ketogenic diet offers a promising approach to colorectal cancer management by inducing ketosis, which can potentially inhibit cancer cell growth and promote the production of BHB, a ketone body with tumor-suppressing properties. While further research and clinical trials are needed to fully understand the safety and efficacy of this dietary strategy, the potential benefits in colorectal cancer management make it a topic worth exploring.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kills cancer cells in the body naturally?

Consuming foods such as turmeric, garlic, broccoli, green tea and pomegranates can naturally help fight cancer cells in the body.

How long can you stay in ketosis safely?

Staying in ketosis should not be a lifelong diet choice – experts recommend staying on the keto diet for six months max. After that, it is important to reintroduce more carbs back into the diet for overall health and wellbeing.

Why do I feel so good in ketosis?

Ketosis may be responsible for feelings of well-being and mild euphoria, as it produces ketone bodies to replace glucose as an energy source for the brain. Additionally, stabilized blood sugar levels, improved energy utilization, reduced inflammation, and improved focus and brain function are often reported by long-term keto dieters.

Is keto or plant-based better for cancer?

A plant-based diet appears to be more effective than a keto diet for cancer reduction or prevention, according to a recent review published in JAMA Oncology.

Can a ketogenic diet cure cancer?

Unfortunately, no studies have demonstrated that a ketogenic diet can cure cancer. However, there may be some potential benefits, such as slowing the growth of colorectal cancer cells and improving patient outcomes.

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