Washington: A study has suggested that eating a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet may reduce the risk of cancer and slow the growth of tumours already present.
The study was conducted in mice, but the scientists involved agree that the strong biological findings are definitive enough that an effect in humans can be considered.
"This shows that something as simple as a change in diet can have an impact on cancer risk," said lead researcher Gerald Krystal, a distinguished scientist at the British Columbia Cancer Research Centre.
Krystal and his colleagues implanted various strains of mice with human tumour cells or with mouse tumour cells and assigned them to one of two diets. The first diet, a typical Western diet, contained about 55 percent carbohydrate, 23 percent protein and 22 percent fat.
The second, which was somewhat like a South Beach diet but higher in protein, contained 15 percent carbohydrate, 58 percent protein and 26 percent fat. They found that the tumour cells grew consistently slower on the second diet.
As well, mice genetically predisposed to breast cancer were put on these two diets and almost half of them on the Western diet developed breast cancer within their first year of life while none on the low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet did.
The study has been published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.