Study Finds That Ketogenic Diet May Help Patients with Brain Cancer

New research has found that a ketogenic diet is feasible and safe for individuals with astrocytomas. A ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrates and high in fat. Astrocytomas are brain tumors that usually begin in cells known as astrocytes, which support nerve cells and occur in the brain or spinal cord.

For their study, the researchers recruited 25 patients with astrocytomas who were each required to follow the Atkins diet and fast intermittently during an eight-week period. The modified ketogenic diet includes foods such as fish, butter, heavy cream, eggs, leafy green vegetables and bacon.

The participants visited a dietician prior to the study then every two weeks after. For five days a week, each of them was required to follow the diet, which combined high amounts of fat and carbohydrate restriction. For the remaining two days, they were required to fast, consuming no more than 20% of their recommended daily calorie amount.

The objective of the study was to see whether individuals could follow the diet with no severe side effects. Of the total participants, 21 individuals were able to complete the study, with researchers noting that nearly 50% followed the diet to the letter. The patients involved in the study had all completed chemotherapy and radiation treatment, with the researchers finding that the diet brought about changes in the metabolism in the brain and the body.

In their report, the researchers noted that they observed an increase in lean body mass and decreases in fat mass in the body, as well as reduced levels of insulin and Hemoglobin A1c. Specialized brain scans used to detect brain metabolite changes also showed metabolic changes in the tumors and an increase in ketone concentrations.

Roy E. Strowd, author of the study, stated that new advances were welcome because there weren’t many effective treatments for these types of tumors and rates of survival were low. Strowd, a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, explained that cancer cells relied on sugar or glucose to divide and grow and since the ketogenic diet was low in sugar, the body used ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates. He said that while normal brain cells could survive on ketones for energy, the researchers theorized that cancer cells could not.

Ketones are usually produced in the liver when the body doesn’t have enough insulin to convert glucose into energy.

It should be noted that the study, whose findings were reported in the online issue of “Neurology,” wasn’t designed to determine if a modified ketogenic diet could improve survival rates or slow down the growth of tumors. Patients therefore need to stick to the treatment regimen ordered by their oncologist, the current shortcomings of those treatments not withstanding, as entities such as CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP) seek for better treatments for central nervous system and brain cancers.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/CNSP

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