Research Spotlight: Keto and Radiation

The use of a Ketogenic Diet in the management and treatment of various types of cancer is growing in popularity thanks to the work of incredible Ketogenic researchers.

There has been some research published demonstrating the effectiveness of Keto, Exogenous Ketones, and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in treating cancer in animals, coming from the lab of Dr. D'Agostino and Dr. Poff at the University of South Florida.

While this research is in animals, we are seeing a lot of anecdotal evidence of these approaches being effective in humans, which is a good start for progressing this field of research forward.

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Since we are still very early in our research on this topic, many doctors are still hesitant to recommend the diet as they should be.  We need to learn a lot more before we can make recommendations against the current standard of care.  However, there are a lot of doctors that are starting to recognize the therapeutic potential of Keto in conjunction with our current standard of care for cancer.  

It has already been established in the research that fasting prior to radiation can help increase the effectiveness of the treatment, which offers potential for Keto to do the same thing.

The Research:

In 2012, Dr. Abdelwahab and his team investigated the additive effects of a Ketogenic Diet in conjunction with traditional radiation treatment in mice with malignant glioma (a type of brain cancer).

During this study, there were mice that were only treated with Keto or a standard diet and there were mice treated with Keto and Radiation or Keto and Standard Diet. 

Here is where things got interesting.  Mice on a standard diet alone survived an average of 23 days.  Animals on Keto alone, survived an average of 28 days, 5 days longer.  These results are promising but what about Keto in conjunction with radiation?

Mice on a standard diet with radiations survived an average of 41 days while mice on Keto and radiation did not die.  That's right, 9 of the 11 mice doing Keto and radiation diminished tumor cells below levels of detection.  What is even more interesting is that after 101 days of no tumors being detected, these mice were put back on a standard diet and still did not show signs of tumor re-occurrence for another 200 days!  Keep in mind the group following a standard diet and radiation died in the first 41 days!


These researchers concluded that the Ketogenic Diet enhances the anti-tumor effect of radiation. While they are still searching for an exact mechanism they suggest that the cellular metabolic alterations induced by the diet may be a useful addition to the current standard of care.

It is too early to say exactly the effects of adding Keto as a standard of care treatment for Cancer, the preliminary results are promising.  The truth is we need much more research and research in humans to give us more answers but for now the point is....there is hope!!!


Abdelwahab, M. G., Fenton, K. E., Preul, M. C., Rho, J. M., Lynch, A., Stafford, P., & Scheck, A. C. (2012). The ketogenic diet is an effective adjuvant to radiation therapy for the treatment of malignant glioma. PloS one7(5), e36197.

Christopher Irvin