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Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the ketogenic diet and cancer

The mention of the word “Cancer” invokes a series of emotions in patients and families facing this diagnosis. A coordinated multifaceted approach often provides the best possible way to meet and defeat the challenges of this metabolic disease.  Outlook and hope of the  patient  are a fundamental key to a successful outcome.  I didn’t know it at  the time but personally observed this in an  extraordinary women, my mother, who faced this diagnosis and defeated cancer on three separate occasions. Essential to this success was the physician that guides the patient along this multi-disciplinary therapeutic course while nurturing the patient’s healing spirit.

Recent research involving US Navy special forces investigating the ketogenic diet to prevent  oxygen seizures in working divers at pressures much greater than the pressures used in clinical hyperbarics stumbled upon an amazing observation. The Ketogenic Diet used in conjunction with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy produced significant anti-cancer effects in a natural model of systemic metastatic cancer. Their results showed a significant decrease in blood glucose, tumour growth rate, and 77.9% increase in mean survival time compared to controls.

Hypoxia is a critical hallmark of solid tumors and involves enhanced cell survival, angiogenesis, glycolytic metabolism, and metastasis. Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) treatment has for centuries been used to improve or cure disorders involving hypoxia and ischemia, by enhancing the amount of dissolved oxygen in the plasma and thereby increasing O2 delivery to the tissue. Studies on HBO and cancer have up to recently focused on whether enhanced oxygen acts as a cancer promoter or not. As oxygen is believed to be required for all the major processes of wound healing, one feared that the effects of HBO would be applicable to cancer tissue as well and promote cancer growth. Furthermore, one also feared that exposing patients who had been treated for cancer, to HBO, would lead to recurrence. Nevertheless, two systematic reviews on HBO and cancer have concluded that the use of HBO in patients with malignancies is considered safe. To supplement previous reviews, researchers summarized work performed on HBO and cancer in the period 2004–2012. Based on the present as well as previous reviews, they found there was no evidence indicating that HBO neither acts as a stimulator of tumour growth nor as an enhancer of recurrence. On the other hand, they found evidence suggesting that HBO used in conjunction with the ketogenic diet might appears to have a tumour-inhibitory effects in certain cancer subtypes, and the investigators strongly believe that they need to expand their knowledge on the effect and the mechanisms behind tumour oxygenation. These therapies should be further investigated as potential non-toxic treatments or adjuvant therapies to standard care for patients with systemic metastatic disease.


Oxygen is the essence of life

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