Ketogenic diets are high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates, with weak to preliminary evidence of anticancer effects, relief of side effects, and benefits on your body terrainthe internal conditions of your body, including nutritional status, fitness, blood sugar balance, hormone balance, inflammation and more.

Ketogenic diet at a glance

The goal of a ketogenic diet (KD) is to decrease glucose and increase ketones to alter the metabolism of cancer cells and their associated stromal cells. KD has been studied primarily in malignant glioblastoma.

Ketogenic diets are medically regimented, high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates. KD can be implemented either by restricting calories or by keeping the same number of total calories from your previous diet (isocaloric KD). Calorie restriction is considered an important component of an anticancer KD, as it supports your body’s retention of ketoneschemicals made in your liver to fuel metabolism; when your body doesn't have enough insulin to get energy from blood sugar, your liver turns fat into ketones and releases them into your bloodstream to fuel your brain, muscles and other tissues and also lowers cancer growth from extra calories or body weight. 

Overall, evidence is weak to preliminary that a ketogenic diet has any anticancer effects or improves side effects of cancer treatment. Some evidence shows better blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, and less inflammation during a ketogenic diet. Experts we reference do not recommend or use the KD much, and safety concerns are notable compared to the possible benefits.

CancerChoices ratings for ketogenic diet

We rate ketogenic diet on seven attributes, with 0 the lowest rating and 5 the highest.

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2

Treating cancer

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2

Optimizing your body terrain

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Managing side effects and promoting wellness

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0

Reducing cancer risk

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Use by integrative oncology experts

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Safety

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Affordability and access

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Keep reading about ketogenic diet

Author

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Reviewers

Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO

Naturopathis oncologist and CancerChoices advisor
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Dr. Alschuler, ND, FABNO, is a professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Arizona where she is the associate director of the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine. She received her undergraduate degree from Brown University and completed her naturopathic medical training at Bastyr University where she also completed her residency in general naturopathic medicine. She is board certified in naturopathic oncology and maintains a clinical practice out of Naturopathic Specialists, LLC. Dr. Alschuler co-hosts a podcast, Five To Thrive Live!. She is co-author of Definitive Guide to Cancer, now in its 3rd edition, and Definitive Guide to Thriving After Cancer.

Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO Naturopathis oncologist and CancerChoices advisor

Last update: June 9, 2022

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.