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31: Dr. Colin Champ | Ketogenic Diets And Cancer

AIR DATE: October 18, 2012 at 7PM ET
FEATURED EXPERT: Dr. Colin Champ
FEATURED TOPIC: “Ketogenic Diets & Cancer”

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Philadelphia physician Dr. Colin Champ from the “Caveman Doctor” blog and the “Relentless Roger & The Caveman Doctor” podcast is currently involved in studying a topic that is very near and dear to his heart that happens to be what we’ll be discussing in this week’s ATLCX podcast. The hot topic we’ll be taking on in Episode 31 is “Ketogenic Diets & Cancer” which is gaining a lot of traction amongst researchers looking for nutritional solutions to this horrible disease. Dr. Champ is currently completing his specialty training in radiation oncology and has a keen interest in the dietary effects of carbohydrate restriction on the prevention and treatment of cancer. The connection between our modern American diet, obesity and cancer has been quite remarkable, and Dr. Champ hopes that the work he is doing can help people fight all three. You may have already read his recent review article published in the scientific journal International Journal Of Breast Cancer entitled “Weight Gain, Metabolic Syndrome, and Breast Cancer Recurrence: Are Dietary Recommendations Supported by the Data?” We’re seeing incredible health benefits from carbohydrate-restricted diets and Dr. Champ took on your questions about how ketogenic diets play a role in the treatment of cancers.

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RELEVANT LINKS SHARED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Dr. Eugene Fine’s Ketogenic Diet Cancer Pilot Trial (listen to Jimmy’s interview with Dr. Fine in Episode 628 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” on Monday, October 22, 2012 about his published results)
- Dr. Fine’s study published in the October 2012 issue of Nutrition
- Ketogenic diet cancer researcher Dr. Thomas Seyfried from Boston College
- Jimmy’s LLVLC Show podcast interview with Dr. Seyfried
- Dr. Seyfried’s new Cancer As A Metabolic Disease book

Here are some of the questions we addressed in this podcast:

GEZ ASKS: Do we know which cancers are the most likely to go into remission with a ketogenic diet? And why are other cancers relatively unaffected?

JOHANNAH ASKS: I have been very interested in following a ketogenic diet to combat my cancer. Is a very high-fat diet feasible for those of us cancer patients who have had our gall bladder removed? Does this diet also need to be calorie restricted in order to be effective?

SANDI ASKS: I have a pituitary adenoma as well as Cushing’s disease and other aliments (lupus/Hashimoto’s/Celiac’s/PCOS/etc.) and despite every effort I cannot get into ketosis nor can I get my blood sugar below 150. Is it the cortisol that is keeping my blood sugar up and prohibiting me from getting into nutritional ketosis? If not then what other things can prevent ketosis in someone eating a high fat, zero carb, moderate protein diet?

FORTUNE ASKS: One of my best FB buddies is a 2-year breast cancer survivor. They did the gene analysis of the tumor and discovered it was a very aggressive one; later she discovered she also had the BRCA genes! She had a double mastectomy and reconstruction. She continues with the usual treatment for cases like hers, a rather expensive medication. She is a very strong person, but we of course are all terrified of a recurrence. Should we recommend low-carb to her? Is there any evidence that low-carb could slow or halt the expression of the BRCA? BRCA can also lead to ovarian cancer, so it’s possible she could get that as well. Could low-carb help her delay or even avoid ovarian cancer?

JAN ASKS: I was very excited getting to meet ketogenic diet cancer researcher Dr. Thomas Seyfried at the Ancestral Health Symposium in Boston this year and was privileged to spend a lunch hour visiting with him about his work with brain cancer. I was so impressed by what he shared that I wrote down a summary of my thoughts and passed along to my fellow RN friend who is the Clinical Nurse Specialist for Oncology at a leading cancer center in California who regularly speaks on this subject. But I was completely flabbergasted at her response when she said “You’re not going to tell me that SUGAR causes cancer” and then she just rattled off a bunch of comments about quacks who are misleading cancer victims and it was just really frustrating to me. This is such an important topic and I know from what I’ve heard about your work and my visit with Dr. Seyfried that there is a place for this discussion. But I couldn’t even get started with this “expert.” She wasn’t even the tiniest bit interested in even looking at the research…and this is not the first time. Unfortunately, I’ve heard this kind of response from a lot of folks who work in cancer treatment. What can low-carb and Paleo practitioners do as a community to get beyond the “quack” label and get people to at least consider this as a viable part of their treatment options for cancer patients?

GREG FROM ALBERTA ASKS: As a layman it seems fairly obvious that any tumor that can be imaged using the fluorodeoxyglucose radiotracer is a tumor which can be affected by limiting glucose consumption. As a new ketogenic diet fan, it seems like all cancers might respond well, but this could just be selection bias on my part. Since mitochondria in tumors can also use glutamine and even lipids as a fuel source. To the best of your knowledge are there breast cancers that would be better served on a protein-limited or even a fat-limited diet? Are there any other common cancers where a restricted ketogenic diet as advocated by Dr. Seyfried might not be effective in helping combat cancer? Are there diagnostic tools that can be used to separate out cancers based on what they require for growth (e.g. Carb/protein/fat)?

MIKE ASKS: My mother has stage 4 ovarian cancer and is now in her third round of chemotherapy treatment. On this round the doctors have put her on a low dose chemo program which she has now been on for several months. She has some small spots in her liver and hip area, however since the third round of chemo began it doesn’t appear that the spots have grown. She is gaining weight (mostly fat) and recently she had a fasting glucose test with a result of 120. I have been encouraging her to eat a ketogenic diet but she says she just doesn’t think she can give up bread and sugar, though she has tried to cut back. Do you feel a ketogenic diet would benefit her at this point, especially if her cancer appears stable for the moment? How hard should I push this?

C.L. ASKS: I was one of the 50-80% of women who do not fit the risk profile for breast cancer but received a diagnosis of Stage 1, ER+ in 2009. This may be apples and oranges, but is the ketogenic diet easier for the liver to detoxify than the standard low fat/high carb that is recommended by oncologists? I ask because I have the double C mutation for the MTHFR mutation which regulates the enzyme for folate uptake. I take the proper B now, so my folate should be adequate but I am always looking for ways to make life easier for my detoxification pathways. On the face of it, I would think more fat would be more burdensome for the liver but apparently everything I’ve heard for the last 30 years about fat has been wrong. I am new to this low-carb lifestyle and am reading as fast as I can. When I was diagnosed I was an ethical vegetarian but realized that would have to change when I began reading about the effects of insulin and cancer. If a ketogenic diet proves a valid treatment, do you think esters might have an application for cancer patients who are under treatment and/or want to avoid recurrence?

ANDY ASKS: My questions are about Dr. Seyfried’s ketogenic cancer therapy. It is predicated on starving malignant tumors of their fermentable nutritional substrates; blood glucose & glutamine. A diligent ketogenic diet manages the blood glucose & prescription sodium phenylbutyrate (Buphenyl) manages the blood glutamine.

I have 4 questions regarding this therapy:

1. Is there any evidence regarding its effectiveness (either anecdotal or clinic testing)?
2. Are there any side effects (especially for the sodium phenylbutyrate for glutamine)?
3. How effective is it when combined with traditional chemo & radiation therapies (radiation supposedly elevates blood glucose)?
4. Should regular self-testing of blood glucose & ketones be incorporated into the therapy?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jill.mitchell.792 Jill Mitchell

    Brilliant. Thank you Jimmy and Colin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ilya.dubovoy.3 Ilya Dubovoy

    Excellent! I’m a medical student doing a presentation on this subject, and this interview provides some great references!

  • Kate Pickford

    Great information. My naturopath is seeing similar results in ovarian and other cancers.

    • LLVLCBlog

      AWESOME!