Study Suggests Keto Diet May Enhance Efficacy of Cancer Therapies

The keto diet —very low in carbohydrates and high in fat—may improve the effectiveness of the cancer drug class phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitors, according to a mouse model study published in Nature 

The researchers found that low blood sugar levels—maintained via the keto diet—may improve the effectiveness of PI3K inhibitors. Specifically, they found that rising insulin levels reactivate PI3K in mice with pancreatic tumors treated with a buparlisib. They then assessed the efficacy of PI3K inhibitors with the diabetes drugs metformin or sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, or the ketogenic diet. Metformin did not affect the glucose or insulin spikes; the SGLT2 inhibitors reduced the glucose and insulin spikes and reduced tumor growth signals. However, the keto diet had the best outcomes in preventing glucose and insulin spikes, as well as tumor growth signals. 

“We demonstrate that this insulin feedback can be prevented using dietary or pharmaceutical approaches, which greatly enhance the efficacy/toxicity ratios of these compounds,” the researchers concluded. 

The researchers cautioned that the ketogenic diet alone may not help control cancer growth and, in some cases, even accelerated the growth of some leukemias. Next, they look to examine whether combining an intravenous PI3K inhibitor with the ketogenic diet, specially prepared by nutritionists, is safe and improves outcomes for breast cancer, endometrial cancer, leukemias, or lymphomas. 

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Source: Nature