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Journal of Cancer Prevention


Journal of Cancer Prevention 2017; 22(3): 127-134

Published online September 30, 2017

© Korean Society of Cancer Prevention

Rationale, Feasibility and Acceptability of Ketogenic Diet for Cancer Treatment

Hae-Yun Chung1, and Yoo Kyoung Park2

1Department of Food and Nutrition, Soongeui Women’s College, Seoul, Korea, 2Department of Medical Nutrition, Graduate School of East-West Medical Science, Kyung Hee University, Yongin, Korea

Correspondence to :
Yoo Kyoung Park, Department of Medical Nutrition, Graduate School of East-West Medical Science, Kyung Hee University, 1732 Deogyeong-daero Giheung-gu, Yongin 17104, Korea, Tel: +82-31-201-3816, Fax: +82-31-203-3816, E-mail:, ORCID: Yoo Kyoung Park,

Received: September 4, 2017; Revised: September 14, 2017; Accepted: September 14, 2017

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Ketogenic diet has been used for more than 80 years as a successful dietary regimen for epilepsy. Recently, dietary modulation by carbohydrate depletion via ketogenic diet has been suggested as an important therapeutic strategy to selectively kill cancer cells and as adjuvant therapy for cancer treatment. However, some researchers insist ketogenic diet to be highly undesirable as ketogenic diet may trigger and/or exacerbate cachexia development and usually result in significant weight loss. This review revisits the meaning of physiological ketosis in the light of this evidence and considers possibility of the use of ketogenic diet for oncology patients. Article search was performed from 1985 through 2017 and finally 10 articles were analyzed. The review focused on the results of human trials for cancer patients and checked the feasibility of using ketogenic diet for cancer patients as adjuvant therapy. The main outcomes showed improvement of body weight changes, anthropometric changes, serum blood profiles, and reduction in novel marker for tumor progression, TKTL1, and increase of ketone body. Lactate concentration was reduced, and no significant changes were reported in the measurements of quality of life. Ketogenic diet may be efficacious in certain cancer subtypes whose outcomes appear to correlate with metabolic status, but the results are not yet supportive and inconsistent. Therefore, it warrants further studies.

Keywords: Ketogenic diet, Neoplasms, High-fat diet, Ketosis

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