226. Could a Low Carb Diet Help Cancer Patients?

Case history of Paul Kelly

An article in the Daily Mail (1) gives a detailed account of how a young man with brain cancer has had remarkable success by switching to a diet which is severely limits his intake of carbohydrates. Paul Kelly, aged 27 years, was diagnosed with a tumour in his brain two years ago and told he just had months to live. An operation was not possible and he was advised that chemotherapy was the only option. He researched the subject and decided that consuming a diet which was low in carbs and high in fat would be preferable to the conventional treatment with drugs. He does not eat any processed foods, refined sugars, root vegetables, starch, breads, or grains. The only carbs in his diet are from green vegetables. He also fasts regularly and monitors his blood sugar twice daily. He takes supplements and anti-inflammatories.

Although the tumour is still present, it has not got bigger and he has certainly done considerably better than would have been expected if he had followed the advice of his doctors.

It is no great surprise to learn that the establishment is not in the least impressed. Cancer Research UK expressed doubts about possible benefits of any diet on cancer. According to Professor Tim Key, of Oxford University’s cancer epidemiology unit, the evidence for this sort of diet is ‘weak’.

I find this response absolutely appalling. If this was an isolated example, I could understand the scepticism but the reality is that it is just one more that can be added to a very long list, where the story is very much the same.

More case histories

A few months ago I did a blog about Archie Robertson, who recovered from Œsophageal cancer, which is one of the most deadly types, with the help of a ketogenic diet (low in carbs and high in fat) (2).

Even more compelling is the experience of Jane Plant who is Professor of Geochemistry at Imperial College in London. For 5 years she was the Chief Scientist for the British Geological Survey (9). In 1987 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which recurred 5 times and by 1993 had spread to her lymph system. At this point she took matters into her own hands by applying her training and expertise to try to identify what was causing her disease. As a result she devised simple changes to her diet and lifestyle which produced a complete cure. Her book describes how the story unfolds and contains details which may be used to cure or prevent cancers of the breast and prostate (3).

When she visited the clinic, she repeatedly asked the doctors and nurses what actually caused her breast cancer and what she should do to reduce the risk of it recurring. While it was accepted that a high level of oestrogen in the blood was a contributory factor, Jane was especially interested to learn what changes she should make to her diet which would help to lower her oestrogen levels. They seemed to be completely flummoxed by her persistent questioning and so she was referred to a dietitian. This was equally fruitless because although the dietitian agreed to look into the matter but did not deliver and even failed to return telephone calls. Essentially the advice was to forget about the breast cancer, get on with life and think positively!

Failure to address the primary cause

During my research in recent years it has become blindingly obvious to me that the inherent flaw inherent in much of medicine is the widespread failure to take any interest in the cause of the various diseases as the experience of Jane Plant illustrates so clearly. Unless the cause can be identified and appropriate steps taken to remove it, then it follows that the risks of developing the disease remain in place. All the conventional treatments for cancer, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are simply directed at tumour removal, which are essentially symptoms. Since the actual cause has not been addressed, there is every possibility that another tumour will develop. One of the few area of genuine progress has been with lung cancer, following the identification of tobacco smoking as the predominant causal factor. Successful reduction in smoking has resulted in a concomitant reduction in the incidence of this cancer.

Diet is a key factor

It is unbelievable that so many cancer specialists and researchers pay so little attention to the nature of the diet. On the other hand there has been enormous emphasis on the genetic aspects, despite the fact that the dramatic increase in cancer incidence over the past 70-80 years could not possibly have been related to genes.

As researchers like Thomas Seyfried have shown, many cancers are caused by a disruption of the body’s metabolism, which in turn is a reflection of the type of diet being consumed (4). The starting point is the research of the famous German biochemist Otto Warburg who discovered that cancer cells develop from normal healthy ones because they are unable to produce energy by the usual process of glycolysis, which is dependent on a supply of oxygen. Instead they have to utilise a fermentation, which does not require oxygen (anaerobic). This is known as the Warburg effect.

Basically this means that cancer cells are dependent on a supply of glucose to function. Hence it follows that if this supply can be cut off or at least severely restricted, then this may be an effective way of controlling the cancer. In practice this can be achieved by replacing the sugar and carbohydrates in the diet with fat. Although the official advice is that carbohydrates are essential in order to provide energy, this is nonsense because the healthy body cells and organs can utilize fat as a source of energy. However it may take a day or two to get the fat burners working.


The experience of Paul Kelly and others is not surprising to anyone who takes the trouble to study the scientific literature. It is totally irresponsible on the part of the establishment figures to be skeptical of these case studies. The progress with cancer has been absolutely pathetic even though enormous resources have been expended in many countries, especially the USA. If there was genuine concern for the welfare of patients, the success of Paul Kelly and other should be used as a springboard for a new approach to cancer research and treatment, The reality is that these are seen as a threat to very powerful vested interests for the very simple reason that the scope for making money out of dietary advice is minimal compared with the sale of drugs at exorbitant prices!!!


  1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3691808/Quitting-carbs-saved-life-Cancer-victim-given-months-live-refuses-chemo-claims-diet-meat-dairy-s-alive-two-years-later.html
  2. https://vernerwheelock.com/212-recovering-from-cancer-case-history-of-archie-robertson/
  3. Jane A Plant (2000) “Your Life in Your Hands: Understanding, Preventing and Overcoming Breast Cancer”. Virgin: London
  4. T N Seyfried (2012) “Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer” John Wiley New Jersey ISBN 978-0-470584-92-7



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