The Ketogenic Diet and Cancer

Is there any benefit to a ketogenic diet for a cancer patient? That’s a question that some researchers have begun asking. Theoretically, there may be reasons to consider a ketogenic diet, and we have some evidence in primary brain tumors that being on a ketogenic diet might be helpful. To get to the heart of why this might be so, researchers are asking why the ketogenic diet seems to be especially helpful in treating one type of illness involving the brain, and that is epilepsy or a seizure disorder. (To review what a ketogenic diet is and how it is helpful for weight loss, read parts I and II of this series)


The Beginnings of the Ketogenic Diet and Epilepsy


To talk about why the ketogenic diet may be useful in the treatment of epilepsy, we have to look at this diet’s cousin, fasting. Short term fasting has been used since Hippocrates (around 400 BCE) for the treatment of various ailments including seizure disorders. Like the ketogenic diet, fasting causes...

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Should you go keto to lose some weight?

The ketogenic diet has become very popular for weight loss. With good reason. If you can stick to it, it is an effective way to lose weight. In the last post we covered exactly what the ketogenic diet is and the many metabolic benefits of nutritional ketosis including the impact it can have on several chronic health conditions. To get all of that information, just click here.


Today though, we are going to cover the most common reason people think about going keto and that is to lose a little weight.


Why does keto work for weight loss?


Yes, the ketogenic diet does work for weight loss. There are several reasons for this.


  1. You are paying attention to what you eat.
  2. With fewer carbs you will lose some water weight in the first week or two.
  3. Eating fats and protein leaves you feeling fuller than consuming carbohydrates.
  4. Some people really do need to limit their carbs because their body has become “carbohydrate intolerant.”


The first reason...

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Should You Go Keto? (Ketogenic Diet)

ketogenic diet Oct 31, 2018

The ketogenic diet gets a lot of coverage in the health media. And that coverage is well-deserved. There have been very few dietary interventions that have the impact on blood sugar, insulin, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and weight that the ketogenic diet does. Yet, the “medical establishment” still frowns upon its use largely because it requires that you consume fat. And for at least a generation, we have been misled by the unsubstantiated claims that low-fat diets are the healthy way to eat. First, let’s take a look at exactly what the ketogenic diet is. Then we’ll cover the pros and cons of the ketogenic diet with regard to heart health, diabetes, weight loss, and cancer.


What exactly is the ketogenic diet?


Most of you can probably answer “low-carb” right away.  But the real health benefits come from being on what has been called a “well-formulated ketogenic diet” and not just low-carb. The well-formulated...

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Are You at Risk for Broken Bones if You Are On an Aromatase Inhibitor?

This is the second post on bone health and why it is so important for breast cancer survivors.  In the first post, we covered the causes of bone loss, who is at risk, and what you can do to keep your bones strong. To read that post, just click here, and then you can come back to this one.


As you were going through breast cancer treatment, you knew to ask about the side effects of the chemotherapy and radiation, how long it would take to recover from surgery, and when you would be able to get back to a normal schedule.


But, as most of you have found out, the treatment can have subtle and long-term effects that you might not have thought of. Bone loss is one of those effects that can be overlooked. But you can’t blame treatment completely. Bone loss happens to us all as we age even if you are not a breast cancer survivor.


How do you know whether or not you have strong bones?  The easiest and most accurate way to know your bone strength is with a...

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What’s Your Bone Density?

bone density Oct 16, 2018

An often-overlooked part of managing our maturing bodies is keeping our bones strong and healthy. This is especially important for breast cancer survivors since some of the medications you take can weaken your bones. In this week’s post we’ll cover the causes of bone loss, who is at risk, and what you can do to keep your bones strong.


The most common cause of bone loss is surviving past the age of 30. That’s right.  Bone loss is a normal part of aging.  As you grow your bone is constantly going through a process called remodeling which involves destroying and building bone. This process continues throughout life. Before the age of 30, you make more bone than you break down, and after the age of 30, you break down more bone than you make.


Since surviving past 30 is generally a good thing, what are some of the causes of bone loss that we might actually want to change? Here are some things that impact bone health that you have control over:

  • ...
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Triple Negative Breast Cancer: Why this is different?

If you have been told you have triple negative breast cancer, you might not understand what that means with regard to the treatment you will get and your prognosis.  Triple negative breast cancer is in a class by itself because the treatment is different.   

First let’s look at what the term “triple negative” means.  There are three tumor markers that all breast cancers are tested for.  Most breast cancer patients know what these markers are.  Tumors are tested for estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors and for overexpression of HER2 receptors.  The estrogen and progesterone receptors determine whether or not your cancer’s growth is hormone dependent and hence whether or not you will be treated with hormone blockers.  The HER2 status determines whether or not you will receive a year’s worth of a therapy called Herceptin or some other HER2 blocker.  Triple negative tumors do not have the hormone...

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Oncotype DX® Score: What Does It Mean?

oncotype dx score Sep 18, 2018

The genes from your breast cancer can tell us whether or not you will benefit from chemotherapy. That is essentially what breast cancer genetic assays like the Oncotype DX® test are all about.


The Chemotherapy Decision


For a lot of women, the question of whether or not they will need chemotherapy looms large after a diagnosis of breast cancer. Months of treatment, nausea, hair loss, fatigue…not something to wish for unless you really need it. But now examining genetic assays of the tumor can guide oncologists in selecting just those patients who are truly going to reduce their risk of recurrence with chemotherapy and excluding those in whom treatment with chemotherapy would be too much treatment.


If you have been diagnosed with early stage invasive breast cancer in the past decade or so, you are probably familiar with some of the genetic assays that are available, and in the US, the Oncotype DX® test is the most commonly used. The Oncotype DX®...

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HER2 Positive Breast Cancer: Do You Know Your Status?

her2 herceptin Sep 11, 2018

Have you been told you have HER2 positive breast cancer? Most breast cancer patients know three things about their cancer:  stage, ER/PR status, and HER2 status. You know these things because they are the factors that determine what treatment you get. The stage tells us how aggressive to be with treatment. The hormone receptor status (ER/PR) tells us whether or not you need hormone blockers. The HER2 status tells us whether or not you need a therapy that is targeted at the HER2 receptor which is usually Herceptin®, also known as trastuzumab. About 15% to 20% of all invasive breast cancers are HER2 positive. 


What is HER2?


Just what is HER2? HER2 is an oncogene, and oncogenes often make proteins that promote the development of cancer or make cancers more aggressive.  The HER2 oncogene makes the HER2 protein. This protein is a receptor that sits on the surface of normal breast cells. Signals that are sent through this receptor are important for normal...

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Three Things Meditation Can Do for Breast Cancer Survivors

Uncategorized Aug 21, 2018

You’ve no doubt heard that meditation can benefit your overall health, but did you know that there are some very specific benefits of meditation for breast cancer survivors?  This post covers research about three common problems that breast cancer survivors face and how meditation can help alleviate those problems.  The three problems that I am going to touch on are anxiety/depression, sleep disturbances, and hot flashes.


Let’s begin with how investigators commonly teach and utilize meditation in research studies.  One of the methods they use to teach meditation is called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction or MBSR.  This program was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at University of Massachusetts and has been widely used as a meditation training program across the US.  Using it provides a similar structure to the meditation instruction that participants get across studies.  But it is certainly not the only way to learn meditation.



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Is Stevia a Healthy Choice?

natural sweeteners stevia Aug 07, 2018

If you are one of those health-conscious consumers who has mindfully switched from pink or blue packets of sweetener to the more natural choice, stevia…we need to talk.


First, what is stevia anyhow?  Stevia is a sweetener made in a lab but starting with a plant.  The pink and blue stuff is also made in a lab but starting with…umm…not a plant.  So in this regard, stevia is “natural”. 


Stevia belongs to a group of products known as nonnutritive sweeteners. It is pretty new to this club so we don’t have a long track record of its use in the US.  In the US, pure stevia extracts (those made in the lab) are considered by the FDA as GRAS (which stands for generally recognized as safe).  There is some nitpickiness at the FDA differentiating whole leaf stevia extracts (which may have some serious effects on blood sugar, blood pressure, and the kidneys) and “high-purity steviol glycosides”, and it...

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