What cancer patients should eat

Dr. Frank Shallenberger, MD

February 7, 2022


One of the most common questions I get from cancer patients is: “I have cancer and my oncologist insists that I can eat anything I want. What should I do?”

Many cancer doctors are telling their patients, “Eat anything you want, it doesn’t matter.” That misinformation can kill them — and you.

Dr. Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize for medicine for discovering that cancer cells were different from normal cells in several ways. One way is that cancer cells, unlike normal cells, cannot live off fat. They can only feed off of carbohydrates.

But does this mean that you can control how fast a cancer grows by decreasing the amount of carbohydrate that you eat?

That’s what a group of researchers in British Columbia set out to discover.

The researchers looked at the effects of different amounts of dietary carbohydrate on cancer growth in mice. They divided the mice into different groups. They placed one group on the standard mouse diet, which contains 55% of the calories as carbohydrate.

This is consistent with what many conventional nutritionists recommend for humans. They gave other groups much lower amounts of carbohydrates — 8%, 10%, or 15%. The researchers then injected the mice with either colon or squamous cell cancer cells.

As expected, all of the mice developed cancer. Then the researchers studied how fast the cancers grew in the mice on the different diets. What they found was startling.

The cancers in the mice on the lower carbohydrate diets grew almost half as fast as those in the mice in the normal carbohydrate diet. And the lower the carbohydrate content, the slower the cancers grew. But that’s not even the best part of what they discovered.

They also studied a different kind of mouse. They genetically bred this second kind of mouse to develop breast cancer.

Of these mice, the researchers expected 100% of them to get breast cancer. They placed these mice on the same carbohydrate diets as the other mice.

Again, as expected, after one year, 50% of the mice on the normal 55% carbohydrate diet developed breast cancer. How many on the low carbohydrate diets developed cancer? None! Not one.

Moreover, only one mouse on the normal diet lived to a full lifespan. Compare this to the low carbohydrate mice. More than 50% reached or exceeded their normal lifespan.

The researchers performed another experiment in which they used anti-cancer drugs in combination with the various carbohydrate diets. Once again, they found out that lower carbohydrate diets were better. The tumor growth was 10-40% less in the lower carbohydrate diets.

So diets low in carbohydrates slow down cancer growth by almost 50%. They prevented cancer deaths in 100% of mice genetically bred to develop cancer. And they significantly improved the effects of anti-cancer drugs.

If you have cancer, I recommend you eat a diet that’s very low in carbs. If you can, keep your intake under 20 grams per day; certainly no more than 45 grams per day.


Ho, V.W., K. Leung, et al. “A Low Carbohydrate, High Protein Diet Slows Tumor Growth and Prevents Cancer Initiation,” Cancer Res 2011;71(13):4484-4493.

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