Plate of ketogenic food on a table
Ketogenic diets as an adjuvant to breast cancer treatment: A summary of the evidence

By Tamzyn Murphy (RD)


There is evidence supporting the use of a ketogenic (very low carbohydrate) diet (KD) as an adjuvant to cancer treatment. It may help by suppressing insulin (which is implicated in breast and other sex-hormone -linked cancers progression) [1, 2], and/or by reducing the availability of the only fuel that cancer cells can use (i.e. glucose – known as the Warburg effect) and rather supplying ketones as an alternative preferable fuel-source to healthy cells [3, 4].


While there’s more research on KD for cancer in general and less research on KDs in breast cancer specifically, case studies of ketogenic diets in breast cancer have shown some anti-cancer benefits [5, 6]. Also ketogenic diets appear beneficial in breast cancer patients, undergoing radiation therapy, for improving body composition [7].



  1. Rose, D.P., P.J. Gracheck, and L. Vona-Davis, The Interactions of Obesity, Inflammation and Insulin Resistance in Breast Cancer. Cancers (Basel), 2015. 7(4): p. 2147-68.
  2. Cohen, C.W., et al., A ketogenic diet reduces central obesity and serum insulin in women with ovarian or endometrial cancer. The Journal of nutrition, 2018. 148(8): p. 1253-1260.
  3. Seyfried, T.N. and L.M. Shelton, Cancer as a metabolic disease. Nutrition & Metabolism, 2010. 7(1): p. 7.
  4. Seyfried, T.N., Cancer as a mitochondrial metabolic disease. Frontiers in cell and developmental biology, 2015. 3: p. 43.
  5. Branca, J.J., S. Pacini, and M. Ruggiero, Effects of pre-surgical vitamin D supplementation and ketogenic diet in a patient with recurrent breast cancer. Anticancer research, 2015. 35(10): p. 5525-5532.
  6. İyikesici, M.S., et al., Efficacy of Metabolically Supported Chemotherapy Combined with Ketogenic Diet, Hyperthermia, and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Stage IV Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. Cureus, 2017. 9(7): p. e1445-e1445.
  7. Klement, R., et al., Impact of a ketogenic diet intervention on body composition changes during radiotherapy: Preliminary results of the KETOCOMP study. Aktuelle Ernährungsmedizin, 2018. 43(03): p. P57.


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