HomeLifestyleHealth & Fitness"Keto" Diet may over-activate gene expression and tumor progression

“Keto” Diet may over-activate gene expression and tumor progression

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While the trendy high-fat, zero-carb ketogenic diet, or “keto,” has been assumed to help treat cancer, new animal research suggests the exact opposite: the keto diet significantly accelerated tumor growth and altered the composition of the gut microbiota in mice with ovarian cancer.

The data was presented today at the hybrid Society of Gynecologic Oncology 2022 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer.

In the experiment, mice with ovarian tumors were fed one of three diets: a keto diet, a high-fat diet with some carbohydrates, or a low-fat, high-carbohydrate control diet.

The study found that tumors in mice on the keto diet developed more than nine times larger throughout the course of the trial, compared to around two times larger in the high-fat group and three times larger in the control group.

The keto diet was also linked to changes in gene expression that boosted inflammation, angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels), and other cancer progression markers.

“The keto diet is very popular, especially among patients who believe it may treat cancer by ‘starving’ tumors of the fuel they need to grow, altering the immune system, and other anti-cancer effects,” explains study leader Mariam Alhilli. “While we don’t know yet whether these findings extend to patients, the results in animals indicate that instead of being protective, the keto diet appears to promote ovarian cancer growth and progression.”

Furthermore, according to the findings of the same study, the keto diet caused more significant changes in the gut microbiomes of tumor-bearing mice, in terms of both the diversity and abundance of numerous bacterial species, than either the high-fat or control diets did.

“The microbiome is thought to play a role in many diseases through its interactions with different signaling pathways,” adds Surabhi Tewari, a medical student at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, who conducted the microbiome analyses. “Our findings highlight a possible connection between changes in the gut microbiome and greater tumor progression in mice fed the keto diet.”

Source: Society of Gynecologic Oncology

Image Credit: Getty

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