Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Evidence shows that a conventional western diet may contribute to the proliferation of cancer cells, affecting their prognosis. The aim of this review is to examine the efficacy and safety of using the ketogenic diet as an adjuvant to traditional cancer therapy. The systematic literature search was performed in October 2018 on two search engines: EBSCOhost (Medline, CINHAL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) and Web of Science using the following key terms: ketogenic diet, high fat & low-carbohydrate diet, Atkins diet, cancer or neoplasms+. The search limitations included clinical studies among adult cancer patients. A total of 544 publications were initially identified. After the first title/abstract screening, 22 articles were eligible for full-text screening; finally, 3 were eligible for data extraction. We synthesized the effects of the ketogenic diet on cancer progression and safety by extracting and summarizing data on 4 items: 1) study characteristics, 2) characteristics of study participants, 3) diet composition and duration, and 4) key findings for efficacy and safety. Although only 3 studies were included, it was observed that more patients who adhered to the ketogenic diet than patients who did not experienced stability of disease and response to treatment. Patients who received the ketogenic diet also experienced a decrease in tumor size, cholesterol, fasting glucose, and triglyceride levels at 90 days. No statistically significant anthropometric changes were experienced; patients weight was maintained. However, more clinical evidence is necessary before applying the ketogenic diet in an oncological setting.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Lee, Eunkyung


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Health Professions and Sciences


Health Sciences



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Release Date