Malnutrition is common in cancer patients, and makes them vulnerable to cachexia, a complex metabolic disorder characterised by the loss of weight and skeletal muscle.
Cachexia also negatively affects cancer patients' response to treatments, with unsuppressed tumour progression exacerbating their condition. Furthermore, chemotherapy and radiotherapy may compromise their nutritional status.
In order to maintain nutritional status while shrinking tumours, multimodal therapy that combines drug, nutrition and non-drug therapies for cachexia has been developed for application alongside conventional treatment, an approach considered more effective than monotherapy.
As cancer has recently begun to be considered a metabolic disease, ketogenic (low-carbohydrate, high-fat) diets have been studied for their potential to restrict tumour progression. However, the effects of such diets on colorectal cancer have not been widely studied.
Based on this, researchers at Meiji conducted a study to determine the impact of Meiji’s ketogenic formula, Ketonformula, on colorectal cancer and cachexia.
They randomly assigned seven-week-old male mice into three groups: normal, tumour-bearing, and ketogenic formula. They then subcutaneously inoculated the mice in the tumour-bearing and ketogenic formula groups with colon 26 cells.
The normal and tumour-bearing mice received a standard diet, and the rest received Ketonformula freely.
After three weeks, the researchers observed that Ketonformula had helped to preserve the mice's body, muscle and carcass weights, while also reducing tumour weight and plasma IL-6 levels.
The mice supplemented with Ketonformula also experienced significantly higher energy intake than the mice in the other two groups.
In addition, the mice in the ketogenic formula group saw their blood ketone body concentrations considerably elevated, with a "significant negative correlation between blood ketone body concentration and tumour weight".
As such, the researchers wrote that Ketonformula "may suppress the progression of cancer and the accompanying systemic inflammation without adverse effects on weight gain or muscle mass, which might help to prevent cancer cachexia".
Long-term evidence needed
They did, however, state that they had shown only the short-term anti-tumour and anti-inflammatory effects of Ketonformula, and did not investigate how a ketogenic diet would fare in combination with conventional chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
They added that more research was needed to determine whether a ketogenic diet would interfere with chemotherapy or radiotherapy’s anti-tumour effects, or worsen their side effects.
They concluded: "This study highlighted the importance of cancer treatment based on metabolic changes induced by cancer load.
"Further studies on the use of Ketonformula for ketogenic dietary therapy in cancer patients might provide additional evidence of its value for the treatment of cancer cachexia."
"A Ketogenic Formula Prevents Tumor Progression and Cancer Cachexia by Attenuating Systemic Inflammation in Colon 26 Tumor-Bearing Mice"
Authors: Kentaro Nakamura, et al.