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Does a low(ish) carb diet prevent cancer? (biochemists required)

by (17949)
Updated about 1 hour ago
Created March 04, 2011 at 11:14 PM

I know there are some smart biochemists around here and I have a question about a phenomeon of free palmitate acting as an agent of apoptosis as in the links below.

http://www.jbc.org/content/278/34/31861.long http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15642122

Would this mean that a diet high in saturated fat and lower in carbohydrates would be protective against cancers by virtue of elevated free palmitate levels inducing apoptosis? Thanks in advance, I could be flat-out wrong and wasn't your time but I thought it was worth a go.

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5838 · May 07, 2011 at 3:40 AM

Is this through autophagy?

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720 · April 13, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Wow that guy seems completely crazy, but yes, he does support a relatively paleo diet, it seems, so he must be doing something right

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17949 · March 05, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Great links. So I garner that the benefits of a ketogenic diet for tumor management would be more in starving the tumors for energy. It would seem like it would follow that less circulating glucose would help prevent them as well, although that's not to say that someone with already low fasting glucose would need to drastically restrict carbs.

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17949 · March 05, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Actually that isn't true. Grassfed beef has less than a quarter of its fat as palmitic acid. More of it is oleic acid and stearic acid.

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25467 · March 05, 2011 at 3:49 PM

Brain tumors other than GBM seem to share this affinity for glucose over ketones and that is why we use ketogenic diets in treatment. I have often wondered if we used diet to keep ketosis of long periods of time if it would help lessen the indcidence and prevalance of tumors. Some of the newer data on electromagnetic radiation from cell phones, espeically the CDMA spectrum, makes me think that we will see an uptick of all gliomas. It is clearly something for us to follow.

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56596 · March 05, 2011 at 3:45 PM

I dunno about low-carb, but there are animal experiments that show IF reduces spontaneous cancer.

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24523 · March 05, 2011 at 3:51 AM

Stabby-- you probably wouldn't have to specially seek out palmitic acid. You might already have known this, but it is the predominant saturated fatty acid in many paleo foods (steak, etc etc).

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17949 · March 04, 2011 at 11:53 PM

You are right about that. But what about the FFAs that get released from adipose tissue? Wouldn't palmitate be constantly elevated?

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8 Answers

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Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d
17949 · March 05, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Great links. So I garner that the benefits of a ketogenic diet for tumor management would be more in starving the tumors for energy. It would seem like it would follow that less circulating glucose would help prevent them as well, although that's not to say that someone with already low fasting glucose would need to drastically restrict carbs.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117
25467 · March 05, 2011 at 3:49 PM

Brain tumors other than GBM seem to share this affinity for glucose over ketones and that is why we use ketogenic diets in treatment. I have often wondered if we used diet to keep ketosis of long periods of time if it would help lessen the indcidence and prevalance of tumors. Some of the newer data on electromagnetic radiation from cell phones, espeically the CDMA spectrum, makes me think that we will see an uptick of all gliomas. It is clearly something for us to follow.

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3618 · March 04, 2011 at 11:25 PM

Can you answer if you're not a biochemist? :P

Not all saturated fat is palmitate, of course. You'd have to specifically seek it out to benefit from it, obviously.

But the cool thing about the type of diet you suggest is that not only does it contain the palmitate, it removes most sources of glucose, which feeds cancer cells that have shut off their mitochondria or don't have them in the first place. Not every cancer falls into that category but quite a few do. On top of that, less glucose means less insulin response which means less encouragement of tumor growth. So you've got three traits of this diet which discourage cancer growth, not just the one.

It's not a guarantee. You could get all the dietary stuff aligned to discourage cancer growth and still be waylaid by environmental toxins. But it's a start. I watched an online friend die from late-stage breast cancer which she fed with a macrobiotic diet. Tried to warn her, it did no good. And she might have died anyway, as far along as she was.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d
17949 · March 05, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Actually that isn't true. Grassfed beef has less than a quarter of its fat as palmitic acid. More of it is oleic acid and stearic acid.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7
24523 · March 05, 2011 at 3:51 AM

Stabby-- you probably wouldn't have to specially seek out palmitic acid. You might already have known this, but it is the predominant saturated fatty acid in many paleo foods (steak, etc etc).

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d
17949 · March 04, 2011 at 11:53 PM

You are right about that. But what about the FFAs that get released from adipose tissue? Wouldn't palmitate be constantly elevated?

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25467 · March 04, 2011 at 11:24 PM

If you read chapters 15-19 of Power Sex and Suicide the answer is yes. Jury is out but based upon the science that we know and how NF Kappa Beta is signalled from the first cytochrome from a variety of sources......yes I think so.

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405 · May 07, 2011 at 3:09 AM

keeping insulin low and gut healthy has many benefits, one being regulation of apoptosis (programmed cell death) which helps prevent cell replication errors, which lead to cancer. Alot more to it, but yes it is your best bet for avoidance of cancer.

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2297 · May 07, 2011 at 2:56 AM

I've got into an argument with one of my biochem friends about the effects of ketosis on cancer growth. I'm saying that ketosis starves cancer of glucose, and he says that cancer can still get enough glucose from what's circulating in the blood stream to survive. One thing you should know about cancer metabolism, is that in 90% of cancers, the cancer cells only use glycolysis for energy production, and don't/can't use fatty acids (via beta-oxidation). This idea has been floating around for a while (since the 1930s), and is known as the Warburg hypothesis (Wikipedia Link). There's also a review of sorts written in 2009, if you have uni access to PubMed you can get it here.

If you want more information, I'd suggest a Google Scholar search of "ketosis glycolysis cancer" or "ketogenic diet cancer", with most of the articles I found in a quick search not needing special access.

I really think ketosis has some good potential in being cancer preventative, and inhibitive to cancer growth. I actually just heard/read about it earlier today, and I'm surprised why this isn't a "big deal". Cancer growth inhibition with a (in my opinion) relatively easy diet change? Yes.

The research also kind of shows that paleo/keto people are at least barking up the right tree. Not a bad thing also.

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4754 · May 07, 2011 at 12:43 AM

Yes. There are likely multiple mechanisms but this is probably one of them.

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18402 · April 13, 2011 at 4:39 PM

I know the info on the below site isn't really Paleo, but Kent Rieske's approach is so different and so radical that I still like reading some of his stuff every now and then just to chuckle if anything. He is as 'low-carb' as they come. He believes carbs cause cancer, and that a low carb diet prevents cancer (among other things). He takes no prisoners.

I do NOT agree with everything he is all about. One of the things he is against is organic farming. He gives his reasons why, and I don't agree. But since Rieske was the guy that scared the bejeezus outta me at the very beginning, he has become somewhat of a household name. We crack up about it actually. He is so over the top, so outlandish and strongarm in his approach that I felt like I was developing a disease right in front of my computer screen.

Have a looksee. He puts loads and loads of info on here about cancer. It gets really good about half way down the (long) page. Take some, leave some.

http://www.biblelife.org/cancer.htm

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720 · April 13, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Wow that guy seems completely crazy, but yes, he does support a relatively paleo diet, it seems, so he must be doing something right

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5232 · April 13, 2011 at 4:10 PM

It cuts off the glucose fuel supply that many cancers use incredibly preferentially.

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