Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most aggressive and lethal forms of brain cancer causing average survival times between 8 and 15 months. Recent research has shown hope in a new combination of treatment options that could improve survival rates. This combination involves cancer medications, radiation treatment, and a ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is high in fats and low in carbohydrates which makes the body produce more ketones. Normal brain cells are able to utilize either glucose or ketones for energy, but tumor cells cannot use ketones as easily due to a decrease in enzymes that break down ketones. A research team has gathered ten patients with GBM to monitor the effects of this new treatment combination. The patients’ blood was analyzed twice a day to check glucose and ketone levels.
The researchers found many obstacles with this study due to the conditions and circumstances of their patients and the restrictions of their diets. There are also a multitude of different ketogenic diets that could have been used, but the researchers used a more classic ketogenic diet with a ratio of 3:1 fats to proteins and carbohydrates. In a past study, the researchers used the ketogenic diet with standard cancer treatment on mice with brain tumors and all mice survived, but mice with just cancer treatment or ketogenic diet did not survive. Although there were no positive results with the human participants of this study, there is still promising data! Hopefully in the near future people will be able to see an effective treatment plan for GBM and increased survival rates!
Schwartz, K. A., Noel, M., Nikolai, M., & Chang, H. T. (2018). Investigating the ketogenic diet as treatment for primary aggressive brain cancer: challenges and lessons learned. Frontiers in nutrition, 5, 11.