Comments to my realist review on ketogenic diets for cancer patients

Recently, I had the honor to correspond with Dr. Prasanta Bandyopadhyay about my realist review of ketogenic diets (KDs) for cancer patients (Beneficial effects of KDs for cancer patients (Klement 2017)). Dr. Bandyopadhyay is a professor of Philosophy in the Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies at Montana State University, USA (check out his homepage here). Together with Gordon Brittan Jr. and Mark L. Taper he has written one of the most inspiring books I have recently read: Belief, Evidence and Uncertainty – Problems of Epistemic Inference. In my review, I had taken the concepts of evidence and confirmation developed in this book to summarize the available evidence for any putative anti-tumor effects of KDs in cancer patients and whether we should believe that such effects are “real” (in the sense of occurring in real world settings). Continue reading

It’s the sugar stupid!

Observations that caloric restriction, i.e. a reduction in total energy intake from what would usually be consumed (called ad libitum intake), retards tumor growth in experimental animals have been published as early as 1909 by C. Moreschi [1]. In recent years, calorie restriction has been more systematically investigated, usually as a 20-40% proportional reduction of energy intake from ad libitum feeding. It has been found that it not only retards tumor growth but could also sensitize tumor cells to pro-oxidative therapies such as ionizing radiation and chemotherapeutics. The big question is through which mechanism(s)? Continue reading

Calories, Carbs and Cancer

More than 125 years ago, Vienna medical student Ernst Freund noticed a strange phenomenon in some of his patients. Similar to diabetics, those with cancer had an “abnormal sugar content” in their blood that disappeared after surgical removal of the tumor. Some decades later, as a professor, he and others showed that compared to normal cells, cancer cells have a particularly sweet tooth in the sense that they would take up large amounts of glucose from culture medium which would stimulate their rapid growth. The most famous experiments were conducted by Otto Warburg and his colleagues in the 1920s at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute for Biology in Berlin. Warburg, a German biochemist and later Nobel laureate, had shown that tumor cells distinguish themselves from almost all normal cells through their preference to ferment glucose to lactate in a process known as glycolysis (1, 2). Continue reading