Can you starve cancer?

With proper nutrition, a Tumor defeat? You believe in individual studies, certain websites, and nutrition counselors, then there are at least a diet that arouses hope. So a study on mice with brain tumors resulted in approximately in the year of 2013 for attention: As the mouse is a low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet – ketogenic diet – received, decreased the tumor growth significantly. And the survival time increased to 56.7 percent.

Several studies with similar sensational results for the effect of a ketogenic diet on cancer have appeared in the past few years. According to this diet is now as a miracle weapon against cancer is much debated. In Internet forums, help books and in advertising to patients and their families to meet a variety of the ketogenic diet.

Cancer cells starve

The idea behind this is obvious: tumor cells are known to grow very quickly, accordingly you need a lot of energy. To do this, you need carbohydrates, of glucose, also known as blood sugar. The tumor cells by the appropriate diet and less of it available, inhibited their growth. Fat and protein, however, can process many tumor cells appear to be less well.

In the case of the patient this quickly leads to hope-Laden questions: Could this work for me? It is not at least worth a try?

“A part of my patients asks me for the ketogenic diet and its prospects for success,” says Ingeborg Rötzer, Director of the division of nutrition therapy at the National center for tumor diseases in Heidelberg, Germany. However, it discourages the patient. And this has several weighty reasons. One of the most important: “There is not a single study with people, which proves that the ketogenic diet acts on the Tumor,” says Rötzer.

“Cells in the laboratory and also in the mouse isolated to consider, this is just something else, than to observe a Tumor in the complex human organism, and to treat,” says Jutta Hübner, Professor of integrative Oncology of the German cancer aid at the University hospital of Jena.

For the patient this is not always easy to understand: studies have fuelled hope – because other studies have to destroy you right back. But the science lives from the mistake. There are countless ideas, theories, assumptions that can be nurtured by first promising notes. Whether they keep what they promise, whether from the Point reproducible results – this is shown only through further proof leading studies. And the falling in of the ketogenic diet negative so far.

“The diet requires a tremendous amount of discipline”

In the year 2017, the working group prevention and Integrative Oncology published in the German cancer society, an opinion on the ketogenic and low-carbohydrate diet. The scientists determine: the appropriate diet could not be recommended at the present time.

“It has changed until today”, says Professor Hübner. No statement was able to demonstrate strong study in humans of an effect of the ketogenic diet on the growth of the tumour and the prognosis, is just one of the reasons. “There is also evidence that the tumor cells are growing in glucose deficiency temporarily, although more slowly,” says Hübner, “after a time, however, it can adapt and even grow faster.”

The Argument that a trial could do no harm, and is therefore void. In addition, the diet itself is also more exhausting than it appears at first glance. Investigations could not be pursued to the end, because the burden for the patients was too high. “In a consistent Keto diet all sorts of foods, even mashed potatoes and cream of wheat are prohibited,” says Ingeborg Rötzer. “The diet requires tremendous discipline and limits the quality of life.”

Too little nutrients will exacerbate problems

And it doesn’t stop there: Hans Hauner, Director of the Institute for nutritional medicine, TU Munich, sees even the danger that the patients would not be sufficiently supplied with nutrients: “Also without diet one-third of cancer patients have malnutrition. A Keto diet could exacerbate the Situation.” Add to this that the diet weakness of the body. This is when cancers is not only counterproductive, but sometimes dangerous: The body and its immune system need strength and energy to fight the cancer.

Nevertheless, scientists keep track of the clues from the laboratory tests. “It may well be that for certain mutations, a ketogenic diet can make sense,” says Rötzer. “But these tumor types, if such there be, must be secured and identified.” Until then, the ketogenic diet used in cancer remains the disease a subject of research. Not less but also not more.