You are here



Hello all, New to CML I was diagnosed about 9 months ago and still trying to figure it out. I was on the internet and saw that a ketogenic diet helps kill cancer cells. Has anyone heard of that and is any one following that diet and does anyone know if it is true. Sorry for so many questions. Thank You in advance for your help.

Hi All,

I think that your post is worth a response if only because we will have seen mention in columns offered by nutritionists of the keto diet and in particular how through diet one might be able to drive down blood sugar levels and prevent the onset of diabetes and perhaps reverse it.On this forum also  there has been mention of possibly a slightly related theme of whether fasting will assist with minimisation of spread of cancer cells and tumors

Apparently the Keto diet is one which is low in carbs but high in fat such that say for every 3/4 grams of fat there is only 1 gram of protein and carbs.By way of contrast a low carb diet involves increasing protein intake.The so called Mediterranean keto diet depends on healthy fats from olive oil and tends to involve trans fats that lead to higher cholesterol and leads to inflammation in the body.Vegan based approaches would add in coconut oil,almond oil and flaxseed oil amongst others.I have tracked down some references to the use of a keto diet in assisting in decreasing cancer cell growth activity but these usually relate to animal studies as opposed to humans

I would like to flag up the issue of how through diet we may try to minimise the consumption of harmful proteins that feed the growth of cancer cells and tumours.I have a urologist that is watching  my PSA score and following an mri scan of the prostate advised that we continue to monitor but also advised me to modify diet and to limit or cease the consumption of red meat.I would like to refer back to the post still on Forum made by LabNoir on BCAAs and the development of new mutations in CML;it was suggested that three Branched chain animo acids present in foods and taken to excess or otherwise not limited might lead to specific mutations; Leucine-V299L mutation,Iso leucine-F317i,T315i,Valine-E255v.Mutation T315i prior to the development of Ponatinib was quite deadly. I asked my oncologist who has a very impressive research record about BCAAs and gave him a copy of the posting-we are going to discuss next month when we meet.

The challenge as I see it this-would diet assist with

1Prevention or the slowing down of the emergence of new mutations in CML

2Lead to a deeper response from tki s and /or lead to better possibilities for reducing/ceasing dose towards TFR

3Modify the side effect profile from tki s

4Prevent or slow down the development of co-malignancies

We have a dilemma in that the body needs proteins and one of the most ready source is from animals  and athletes in particular increase intake of certain proteins and animo acids so as to promote muscular efficiency.

I am going down the road towards more of a plant based diet and am try to avoid foods high in BCAA and also avoiding inflammatory foods.Some studies have indicated that diet may assist to slow down or even stop the development of early stage prostate cancer.

I would not want to influence any ones choice of foods but I will be avoiding processed foods,most meats,dairies, sugars, bad oils etc ;in that way I also avoid consuming meats that use hormones and antbiotics in farming.In China pork farmers are licensed to use colistin which is the last stage antibiotic in fighting resistant infections-hitherto it has not been licensed for humans in that country!

The conclusion is that CML being treated with tkis will never go away completely and even with a string of undetectable PCRs there will always be residual leukaemic cells in the bone marrow and many millions of them but we might give ourselves a better chance by avoiding some contents of food that promote growth of cancer cells-some science is developing here I believe.In the past those who challenged cancer through diet and exercise might have been thought to be engaging in quackery but thinking might be changing in that healthy responses for food and lifestyle affect ones ability to treat the condition;it will do little to stop aggressive progressions or reverse a blast crisis though.

What do you think?





Extremely well constructed response there John, apologies for opening an older thread. 


As background I was diagnosed with CML over 4 years ago and after not working well with dasatinib over the first two years I am working much better imatinib for the last two. 

I have struggled with tiredness as a side affect  and looked to see what ancillary benefits an augmented diet could provide, rather than a focus on cancer treatment per say. I have been doing a Keto diet since early June (~3 months) and limiting my carbs to 5% (30g) of my marcos per day, with 55% Fats and 40% Protein. I have had noticed an improvement in mood and energy however this may be solely from reduced processed foods than explicitly carb reduction. I have also seen improvements in sleeping through the night and less naps required on weekends (this is influenced by my activities). 

I’d be interested to know how you have felt over the last six months if you continued on the plant focussed diet as I have found my own body not working well when I am reducing saturated fats (red meat etc). 

Enjoyed John W's reply to your question.

I would add that so-called low carb diets and related can be viewed in context to what our bodies have evolved to eat and what has happened to our diet over the last 50 years or so with modern technology (cold storage / large scale farming/processing) and culture.

No where in the land do we see boxes of food growing on trees or shrubs - so eliminating food packaged in boxes is a good idea. Next - sugar is a prized commodity in ancestor times...meaning it was scarce and when available, only during growing months. Fruit, for example is not available all year long anywhere including the tropics. Fruit comes and goes in cycles. When fruit is available, animals eat as much as they can and their bodies turn the sugars into stored fat (sound familiar?). This is good for times when food is not plentiful. When fruit is not available, nuts, seeds, and other plant fats are usually available and make up most of the diet. And when no food is available, at least the sugar stored into fat.

Every now and then - an animal is discovered and eaten. This source of protein is excellent but was rare. Eating meat every single day as many of my friends do is just asking for health trouble. But having meat once in a while is very beneficial - especially grass fed beef. And then - quite often - there is little food and the body is forced to use its fat (and step up the enzymes to reverse the metabolic flow (sugar to fat, then fat to ketones + some sugar) for energy.

What I have begun to do  is mimic nature / natural cycles. I eat fruit when in season and usually only later spring through summer. I will put on a pound or two, and lose ketosis. However, I also fast weekly to get ketosis re-started and burn some fat. During the fall, fruit is much less or gone and I eat mostly nuts, veggies and some meat. My body goes into full ketosis where it remains for most of the winter.

In this way, both metabolic pathways are exercised which keeps diabetes from ever developing AND keeps the body healthy.

Key in this for cancer is that during ketosis the body goes into autophagy which scavenges bad cells for protein to make sugar. The greatest source of these cells are our blood supply (white cells). The body has an overabundance of white cells many of them not functional. Periods of fasting eliminate them (they are harvested for their amino acids) and when you re-feed with protein, stem cells are activated to regenerate a new immune system. It's pretty amazing this occurs.

Key to long life, in my opinion, is to eat naturally. Eat food that is in season and to fast regularly in order to drive metabolic pathways to renewal. Use supplements which are otherwise no longer available like they were naturally (i.e. vitamin K2 and minerals (Magnesium mostly and selenium!).

p.s. Do I break the rules I just listed above? you bet - birthdays for one and whenever there is a party! Nothing out of a box though - that is a permanent change. Wedding cake? Heck yeah. (always followed by a fast to reverse the carb load). And always a good scotch.