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Can a low-carb diet during radiation treatment help fight brain cancer?

Larry Chin, MD, left, and Hans Kim

Larry Chin, MD, left, and Hans Kim

The chief of neurosurgery at Upstate and an aspiring oncologist will examine whether a low-carbohydrate diet during radiation therapy can improve the prognosis for someone with glioblastoma, the aggressive brain tumor that U.S. Sen. John McCain has. Larry Chin, MD, who leads Upstate's neuro-oncology program, says patients will be able to choose whether to follow a ketogenic diet while they are receiving treatment for their brain tumor. Treatment may include surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. A ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrates and high in fats, meaning patients would not eat bread and pasta. Fourth-year medical student Hans Kim says a ketogenic diet is designed to prompt the body to burn fat as its primary fuel instead of sugar. Their study will look at whether such a diet can enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy.

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