In 2020, approximately 2.3 million women worldwide received a breast cancer diagnosis. Emerging research suggests that dietary choices play a significant role in breast cancer risk. A recent review from the University of Catania in Italy has proposed that adopting a ketogenic, or “keto,” diet could potentially hold therapeutic advantages for individuals grappling with breast cancer.
Understanding the Keto Diet
- What is the keto diet?
- The keto diet centers around obtaining the majority of daily calories from protein and healthy fats, with a reduced intake of carbohydrates.
- Typically, only 5–10% of daily calories come from carbohydrates in a standard keto diet.
- This dietary shift prompts the body to rely on fat for energy, leading to a metabolic state known as ketosis.
- Pros and Cons of the Keto Diet
- Benefits: The keto diet has demonstrated potential benefits like weight loss, appetite suppression, and heart health.
- Considerations: Some individuals may experience a temporary “keto flu” during the adjustment period. Long-term effects can include kidney stones, vitamin deficiency, liver disease, and low blood protein levels.
- Precautions: The keto diet is not advised for those with specific medical conditions affecting the gallbladder, pancreas, liver, or thyroid. It is also not recommended for pregnant individuals and those with eating disorders.
Diet’s Impact on Breast Cancer
- Link between Diet and Breast Cancer Risk
- Unhealthy dietary practices and increased consumption of ultra-processed foods have been associated with elevated breast cancer risk.
- Higher sugar intake, including sugary sodas, has also shown a correlation with an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Positive Dietary Habits for Breast Cancer Prevention
- Studies suggest that incorporating more fruits, vegetables, cheese, and soy products, while reducing red and processed meat, can contribute to a lower risk of breast cancer.
- The Mediterranean diet has demonstrated a potentially protective effect against breast cancer.
- Tailoring Diet for Treatment
- Research indicates that the type of food a person with breast cancer consumes can influence treatment-related toxicities and prognosis.
Summarizing Current Knowledge
Researchers from the University of Catania conducted a comprehensive review, analyzing preclinical and clinical studies examining the link between the keto diet and breast cancer. While some findings suggest potential benefits, they emphasize the need for further clinical trials to validate these effects, given the current inconsistency in results and limited human trial data. Concerns regarding the safety and long-term effects of sustained ketosis in cancer patients were also noted.
Expert Opinions and Caution
Leading experts caution that while the study’s findings are promising, the keto diet should not be seen as a standalone prevention or treatment method for breast cancer. Dr. Parvin Peddi, a board-certified medical oncologist, underscores the need for ongoing clinical trials to provide concrete answers regarding the diet’s potential benefits in conjunction with therapy for breast cancer.
Considerations for Individuals with Breast Cancer
Clinical nutrition manager and oncology nutrition specialist, Anabelle Ahdoot, emphasizes the importance of evaluating any diet, including the keto diet, in collaboration with existing medical treatments. She advises against extreme restrictions that may lead to major weight loss and malnutrition, which can be detrimental during cancer treatment. Ahdoot further stresses that the focus should be on preserving the patient’s overall well-being throughout their medical journey.
In conclusion, while the keto diet shows promise in aiding individuals with breast cancer, it is essential to approach it with caution and in consultation with healthcare professionals. The ongoing research and clinical trials will shed further light on its potential benefits in conjunction with conventional treatments.