Dr. Mehmet Oz spoke to TV journalist Joan Lunden about her breast cancer battle and her sugar free, wheat-free ketogenic style diet on the Oct. 21 episode of the Dr. Oz Show.
Lunden recently got a lumpectomy and completed 12 weeks of chemotherapy for her breast cancer. Joan, 64, said she’s feeling good, but is bracing herself for her second round of chemotherapy, which she started on Oct. 20.
Lunden works out every day and switched to a sugar free, low-calorie, ketogenic style diet that eliminates wheat and dairy after being diagnosed with cancer in June 2014. In addition to a healthy diet and exercise, Joan said maintaining a positive attitude is critical during recovery.
Joan, who’s battling stage 2 breast cancer, was very self-conscious when she lost her hair during chemo and became bald. Lunden said it was shocking to look at herself in the mirror without hair, but she learned to get over it and even posed on the cover of People magazine without her wig.
Joan said it wasn’t an easy decision, but she’s glad she did it because she wants other women to know it’s OK to appear bald in public. “It sounds superficial, but when you lose your hair, it just affects the way you look at yourself in the mirror,” said Lunden.
Lunden said she never realized how important diet was to cancer prevention. Joan, who has seven children, said most of us are unwittingly promoting cancer by eating unhealthy diets filled with processed junk food.
Since her cancer diagnosis, Lunden has switched to a sugar-free, wheat-free, dairy-free diet and believes she’s healing herself with cancer-fighting foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, blueberries and blackberries.
Scientists: Cancer Cells Thrive on Sugar
Researchers agree with Joan, saying sugar-free, low-carb diets such as the Paleo and ketogenic plans can prevent cancer and even starve cancer cells.
“The ketogenic diet is a single metabolic approach to a multitude of different diseases,” cancer scientist Dr. Thomas Seyfried of Boston College told me in an exclusive interview.
This is because nearly all the healthy cells in our body have the metabolic flexibility to use fat, glucose and ketones to survive, but cancer cells lack this metabolic flexibility and require large amounts of glucose and can’t survive on ketones.
Cancer cells thrive on sugar, so by limiting carbs and sugar, we can reduce glucose and insulin, and restrict the primary fuel for cancer cell growth. Today, there are about a dozen studies that are investigating the use of the ketogenic diet to manage cancer.
The low carb ketogenic and Paleo diets have already proven effective for fueling rapid weight loss, and have consistently beaten low-fat diets for weight loss and preventing heart attacks. Low carb diets accelerate weight loss by forcing the body to burn fat for fuel, said obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman, co-author of Keto Clarity.
A recent study from the National Institutes of Health showed low carb, high-fat diets such as the Paleo and ketogenic plans produced three times as much as weight loss as low-fat diets.