Ketogenic Diet and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in combination increase cancer survival

Ketogenic Diet and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in combination increase cancer survival

A ketogenic diet - an extreme low carb, low protein, high fat diet - together with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (or HBO) can prolong cancer survival in mice.

Research shows Ketogenic Diet and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in combination prolong cancer survival

In a peer-reviewed research study (1) published on Plos One, researchers studied the use of a Ketogenic Diet in combination with Hyperbaric Oxygen in mice with metastatic cancer. The results were impressive and human trials were planned, however we have no news of any results. 

Cancer has a glucose dependency

The researchers (from the Dept. of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida and the Dept. of Biology at Boston College) explain in the introduction that cancer cell metabolism creates a glucose dependency (glycolytic-dependency), which can be exploited by lowering glucose availability to the tumour.

The ketogenic diet (KD) is a low carbohydrate (just 2% of total calories), low protein (just 8% of total calories) and high fat (90% of total calories) diet which aims to decrease blood glucose levels and elevate blood ketones (which can feed healthy cells but not cancer cells).  It has been shown to slow cancer progression in animals and humans.

However, at the same time the poor blood supply to tumours creates conditions of hypoxia in tumours or ‘hypoxic pockets’ (pockets where there is no oxygen and a lower, more acidic pH). It is known that hypoxia promotes cancer progression and metastases and further increase the glycolytic-dependency of cancers.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO, or HBOT, or HBO2T) saturates tumours with oxygen, causing their defense systems to 'crash' ratger like a computer crashing, reversing the cancer-promoting effects of Hypoxia.

Researchers felt that these two non-toxic therapies exploited overlapping metabolic deficiencies in cancer, and tested their combined effects on cancer progression in a mouse model of metastatic disease.

Ketogenic diet plus Hyperbaric Oxygen produce significant anti-cancer benefits

In a multi-faceted study the researchers used a Ketogenic Diet (KD) along with three 90 minute sessions of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy per week.

Under normal conditions just 8 per cent of the mice given the metastatic cancer would survive. The conclusions state that: a ‘KD alone significantly decreased blood glucose, slowed tumor growth, and increased mean survival time by 56.7% in mice with systemic metastatic cancer. While HBO2T alone did not influence cancer progression, combining the KD with HBO2T elicited a significant decrease in blood glucose, tumor growth rate, and 77.9% increase in mean survival time compared to controls’.

The research was published on June 5th 2013 and the final note stated that: ‘KD and HBO2T produce significant anti-cancer effects when combined in a natural model of systemic metastatic cancer. Our evidence suggests that these therapies should be further investigated as potential non-toxic treatments or adjuvant therapies to standard care for patients with systemic metastatic disease.’

Chris Woollams, former Oxford Biochemist and CANCERactive founder said, "At CANCERactive, we are delighted to bring you this research. We have been telling people on our Website about the Ketogenic Diet for over a decade and about the benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen for longer. We even helped The Royal Marsden recruit for their Clinical Trial on Hyperbaric Oxygen. We do not believe that Hyperbaric Oxygen per se kills cancer cells and research backs this up - however, it damages tumours and makes them temporarily crash. When their defences are down, we know cancer treatments - like chemo and radiotherapy - have an easier job of killing cancer cells.

The two treatment create a combined environment where it is more difficult for cancer to survive. Please understand though that the use of a Keto diet is an 'all-or-nothing' treatment. You cannot half do it. It is extreme. Only 2% of calories from carbs; only 8% from protein according to Seyfried, who I met at a conference where we were both speaking." 

Go to: Hyperbaric Oxygen in cancer treatment



1. The Ketogenic Diet and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Prolong Survival in Mice with Systemic Metastatic Cancer; Angela M Poff, Csilla Ari, Thomas N Seyfried and Dominic P D’Agostino -


Further Reading: 

The Ketogenic Diet: Click here.

2013 Research
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