Low Carb Diet Slows Ag­gres­sive Brain Tu­mor

Wellness Update - - Content -

“When you’re sick, you need as many com­forts in your life as you can get and food is a huge com­fort. That’s the idea: Could we de­velop a bene cial diet but make it much eas­ier for pa­tients?” Reynolds said.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A high-fat, low-car­bo­hy­drate diet that in­cluded a co­conut oil de­riv­a­tive helped re­duce the growth of glioblas­toma tu­mor cells and ex­tended life­span in mouse mod­els by 50 per­cent, re­searchers found.

Glioblas­toma, the most com­mon brain tu­mor in adults, has no ef­fec­tive long-term treat­ment and on av­er­age, pa­tients live for 12 to 15 months af­ter diagnosis, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Can­cer In­sti­tute.

The nd­ings are a new twist on an old idea: The so-called ke­to­genic diet has been used for nearly 90 years to help re­duce epilep­tic seizures. Now, a high-fat, low-car­bo­hy­drate ver­sion of the ke­to­genic diet has been shown to slow glioblas­toma tu­mors by cut­ting back on the en­ergy sup­ply they need to thrive, said Brent Reynolds, Ph.D., a pro­fes­sor in the Lil­lian S. Wells Depart­ment of Neu­ro­surgery. A glioblas­toma tu­mor re­quires large amounts of en­ergy as it grows, and the di­etary in­ter­ven­tion works by dras­ti­cally lim­it­ing the tu­mor’s sup­ply of glu­cose, Reynolds said.

“While this is an ef­fec­tive treat­ment in our pre­clin­i­cal an­i­mal mod­els, it is not a cure. How­ever, our re­sults are promis­ing enough that the next step is to test this in hu­mans,” Reynolds said.

The mod­i­fied diet tested by Reynolds’ group in­cluded a co­conut oil de­riv­a­tive known as a medium-chain triglyc­eride, which plays a cru­cial role be­cause it re­places some car­bo­hy­drates as an en­ergy source.

Reynolds said the mod­i­fied high-fat, low-car­bo­hy­drate diet also has an­other dis­tinct ad­van­tage: Can­cer pa­tients could po­ten­tially nd it more palat­able be­cause they can eat more car­bo­hy­drates and pro­tein than they could on a clas­sic ke­to­genic diet.

While both the ke­to­genic and mod­i­fied high-fat, low-car­bo­hy­drate di­ets showed sim­i­lar ef­fec­tive­ness against tu­mors in the mouse mod­els, Reynolds said the lat­ter is more nutri­tion­ally com­plete and po­ten­tially more ap­peal­ing to can­cer pa­tients be­cause it of­fers more food choices.

Al­though re­searchers don’t yet know ex­actly why it was ef­fec­tive, Reynolds said pre­lim­i­nary data show that the mod­i­fied diet also ap­pears to make glioblas­toma tu­mors more sen­si­tive to treat­ment with ra­di­a­tion and chemo­ther­apy. He sees the diet as a sup­ple­men­tal ther­apy that could com­ple­ment chemo­ther­apy and ra­di­a­tion.

“This sim­ple di­etary ap­proach may be able to re­duce tu­mor pro­gres­sion and en­hance stan­dard of care treat­ments in cancers that are highly metabol­i­cally ac­tive,” Reynolds said.

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