Breast Cancer Healed with a Ketogenic Diet (Elaine Cantin)

Cancer is not a collection of unrelated diseases that each need to be treated individually, cancer is one disease—a mitochondrial disease—and diseased mitochondria prefer glucose and glutamine for fuel.  Healthy cells with healthy mitochondria are flexible and can adapt to just about any fuel source, but not cancer cells.  In fact, the majority of cells in our body function best when they burn fat for energy.  Cancer cells are bad at burning fat, because fat burning requires respiration, which requires healthy mitochondria.” Thomas Seyfried

Elaine Cantin heals from breast cancer with a ketogenic diet

Elaine Cantin

When Elaine Cantin was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, her doctors performed a lumpectomy but the tumor grew back quickly.  They wanted to treat her aggressively with chemotherapy and radiation, but after witnessing several family members and friends pass away due to the harsh treatments Elaine decided to take her time and explore her options. Her research led her to the Ketogenic diet which she then modified to fit her own needs.

The ketogenic diet- all carbohydrates are converted by the body into glucose, and all cells are fueled by glucose.  But when you deprive normal cells of glucose they will automatically make the switch to the alternate fuel source of ketone bodies. A defect in cancer cells prevents them from making this conversion so they die. Dr Dominic D’Agostino, a ketogenic researcher, explains it like this, “Your normal cells have the metabolic flexibility to adapt from using glucose to using ketone bodies, but cancer cells lack this metabolic flexibility. So we use the ketogenic diet  to exploit that defect.”   He adds,”It just absolutely amazes me that medical science is just now finding this out.”

When Dr. D’Agostino and his team of scientists at the University of South Florida removed carbohydrates from the diets of lab mice, they survived highly aggressive metastatic cancer even better than if treated with chemotherapy.  “We have dramatically increased survival with metabolic therapy,” he said. “So we think it’s important to get this information out.”  This diet is not just successful with mice in the lab, Dr. D’Agostino has also seen similar success in people.  “I’ve been in correspondence with a number of people, at least a dozen over the last year-and-a-half to two years, and all of them are still alive, despite the odds. So this is very encouraging.”

The standard ketogenic diet- allows for about 45 grams of carbohydrates per day, but Elaine came up with her own version that limited the carbs to only 20 grams per day.  Elaine’s  version of the diet also eliminated many common food allergens such as corn, soy, wheat, all dairy products (including butter and cheese).  She also eliminated all red meats, genetically modified foods, alcohol, caffeine, and all chemical additives that are found in processed foods, as all of these can promote inflammation within the body.

Elaine also took a variety of supplements to address her nutritional deficiencies, used some herbals for detoxing her body, and also monitored her saliva pH in order to keep her body in an alkaline state. You will find more information on acid/alkaline balance and how to test pH at the bottom of the post.

Some things that you can do to increase alkalinity. 

  • 1 T apple cider vinegar added to drinking water
  • The juice of a lemon or lime added to drinking water
  • Barley grass or wheat grass powder added to drinking water
  • Using Himalayan sea salt daily
  • Taking a trace mineral supplement.

Her modified ketogenic diet had an immediate effect on her tumor. She says that people who follow her diet properly should begin to see results within 4 weeks.  Furthermore, you must continue on the diet until all of the cancer is gone and then continue on with a low carbohydrate maintenance diet to prevent it from coming back. You cannot go back to your old habits after having cancer. 

On April 15, 2013– Elaine reported that her cancer had returned and doctors told her that she now had advanced breast cancer.  She attributes this setback to being under a lot of stress at work and not adhering to the diet.  She immediately went back onto her very strict version of the ketogenic diet and by March 19, 2013, only a month later, her scans revealed that cancer was no longer detectable in her body.

Not only did Elaine cure breast cancer twice with her modified ketogenic diet, but she also used this same diet to treat her son’s Type 1 Diabetes and has been able to take him off of insulin.  She shares this information in her book The Cantin Ketogenic Diet For Cancer.

The ketogenic diet is made up of 75-80% healthy fats, 15-20% healthy proteins, 5-10% non-starchy vegetables.  keto

Eliminate the carbohydrates:  this includes all grains, bread, pasta, rice, breakfast cereals, granola bars, crackers, muffins,  baked goods and processed foods; as well as starchy vegetables such as potatoes, winter squash, and corn; all sugars, soft drinks, candies, jams, syrups and desserts; as well as most fruits; milk products (as lactose= dairy sugar).

Fats- will help you maintain your state of ketosis, where your body is burning fat as its main source of energy.   In addition, your ketogenic meal plan should include about 1 to 2 tbsp of extra fat, such unrefined coconut oil, olive, or avocado oil with your meals. Coconut oil is a good choice because it contains medium-chain triglycerides that promote a ketogenic state.

  • Using fats in the menu– you can cook the vegetables for your morning omelet in coconut oil and drizzle olive or avocado oil over your vegetable side dishes when they are done cooking, and make some homemade salad dressings them as well.
  • Other acceptable fat foods include: avocados, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, hazel nuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts, hemp seeds, freshly ground flax seeds, and nut butters (except peanuts).
  • Fats to stay away from include:  “trans” fats, such as shortening or margarine, as well as oils that are hydrogenated and polyunsaturated oils such as corn, soy, canola, grape seed, sunflower and safflower because these oils will oxidize easily making them inflammatory to the body.
Proteins- A ketogenic diet should provide a moderate amount of protein at each of your meals. The best sources of protein are whole and unprocessed and are still in their natural form. This includes breast of chicken, fish fillet, fresh seafood, and eggs. On the other hand, “processed” meats, like cold cuts and hot dogs are off-limits because often carbohydrates have been added to them as well as harmful additives and preservatives.  Those on a vegetarian diet can turn to organic tofu, nuts (such as almonds, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, hazel nuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, and nut butters); hemp seeds, and Plant Based Protein Shake Mix. The diet recommends Including 4 to 6 oz. of protein at each of your meals.

  • Protein intake: you could have a 2 or 3 egg and vegetable omelet with an avocado for breakfast, 4 oz of chicken breast with non-starchy vegetables that are drizzled with olive oil for lunch, and 4 oz. salmon fillet with a side of non-starchy vegetables that are drizzled with olive oil, and a salad with olive oil dressing at dinner.

Eat non-starchy Vegetables– You can obtain your limited amount of carbohydrates, between 20 and 45 grams a day, by eating a variety of non-starchy vegetables. These are among the most nutrient-dense foods which can provide you with all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber you need, while containing very little in carbohydrate content so they will help you stay in ketosis.  To do this you should eat 1 to 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables at each of your meals.

  • Using non-starchy vegetables in your daily menu: You can eat a vegetable omelet for breakfast, have a big salad of leafy greens topped with grilled chicken for your lunch, and accompany your dinner with a large salad and a side of vegetables.
More on the ketogenic diet-  Some people are hesitant to try the ketogenic diet because they think that high-fat diets are bad for your health. But increasingly doctors are saying that as long as you are eating “natural” fats, this diet is actually good for you. Natural fats include extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and unrefined coconut oil. “Is cholesterol the major cause of heart disease?  Absolutely not.”” says cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra in his book ‘The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease-and the Statin-Free Plan That Will Dr. Sinatra says that the real cause of heart disease is inflammation from eating too many carbohydrates and sugar. “We need to coach and empower our patients about the dangers of sugar,” he said. “Unfortunately, they’re not hearing that. They’re hearing the opposite which is about the dangers of fat. Fat is healthy for you, as long as you avoid trans fats.”  He says that by cutting back on carbohydrates and eating natural fats and proteins, you can improve your heart health and potentially wipe out cancer.


Elaine shares her story of healing cancer with a ketogenic diet


What does the ketogenic diet look like:


  • Start this diet with a 3 day water fast as this helps the body enter ketosis quickly
  • Count your carbs religiously, and keep them within the ketogenic range of 20-45 grams per day, Elaine keeps her carbs at 20 grams per day.
  • Eat enough protein containing foods such as fish, chicken or eggs (Elaine does not eat red meats).  A general measure would be 23% of your total calories.
  • Monitor blood glucose, trying to maintain at 70 mg/dl (3.9 mmol/L)
  • Monitor blood ketones and try to get them up to 3.6
  • Eat an abundance of non-starchy vegetables such as:  Amarath, Artichokes, Asparagus, Bamboo Shoots, Bean Sprouts, Beans (Green), Beet Greens, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Daikon, Eggplant, Fennel, Greens (some include Collard, Kale, Mustard, Turnip, Chicory, Endive, Escarole, Romaine, Spinach, Arugula, Radicchio, and Watercress), Hearts of palm, Jicama, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Pea pods, Peppers, Radishes, Rutabaga, Sprouts, Sugar Snap Peas, Swiss Chard, Tomato, Turnips, Water Chestnuts, and Zucchini.
  • Lemons, limes, or a very small amount of berries, or other low carb fruit might fit into your meal plan. Keep in mind that 1/2 cup of fresh raspberries has 3.4 grams of net carbs, 1/2 cup of strawberries has 4.1 grams of net carbs, 1/2 cup of cranberries has 3.8 grams of net carbs, 1/2 cup of watermelon has 5.5 grams of net carbs, and 1/2 cup of cherries has 5.5 grams of net carbs.  Therefore using these fruits as a garnish for the meal only tends to keep the portions at the appropriate level.  However, if they throw you out of ketosis then you cannot consume them.
  • Include some sea vegetables (for iodine) and fresh herbs.
  • Fill in the rest of your calories with healthy fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil. Fats can also be obtained by eating avocados and nuts such as macadamia, almonds, Brazil nuts, and pecans.
  • Additional fats can be obtained by supplementing with Cold-Pressed Black Seed Oil and MCT Oil

A typical keto meal plan might look like this: 

  • Breakfast:  green tea with 1 tbsp of MCT oil or coconut oil, or coconut cream, 3 eggs, 1/2 avocado, and a sliced tomato that is drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with black pepper.
  • Lunch:  a salad of greens and non-starchy vegetables topped with broiled fish or chicken, and a dressing made from 1 tbsp of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon.
  • Snacks:  macadamia nuts or almonds and 1 tbsp of MTC oil.
  • Dinner:  whole cut of chicken or fish, with a side of  two non-starchy vegetables (such as sauteed spinach and broccoli) that are drizzled with olive oil, with a green salad topped with an olive oil and fresh lemon dressing. 
  • Nighttime beverage– Herbal tea with added MTC oil or coconut cream

Recommended supplements for the Keto diet

  • The ketogenic diet may deplete selenium levels so eat a small handful of Brazil nuts twice per day to keep your levels up, or think of supplementing with Selenium.
  • Adequate magnesium levels are also important when on keto. Magnesium absorbs well through the skin, so one way to achieve this is by applying a topical magnesium oil, or through supplementation.
  • Supplementing with Potassium is also recommended.
  • Taking a quality, bio-available multivitamin and mineral supplement can help to fill nutritional shortfalls.

Testing for ketones

Using a test strip to reach ketosis

Using a test strip to reach ketosis

You must keep track your carbohydrate intake carefully to ensure that you are staying within your target range.  It usually takes 48 hours after eliminating carbs for the body to reach a state of ketosis.

Ketone Testing Strips are available online or at pharmacies  (they are usually found  along with diabetic supplies), and they are used to test the ketone levels in your urine.  The strips have a small absorptive pad on the end which contains a chemical that will change from light pink to a deep purple color in response to the levels of ketones found in the urine.  The strip is then compared to the corresponding scale on the container. 

Try to keep yourself testing in the higher levels for at least 7-10 days which should begin to break down tumors.  That 7-10 days begins after your ketones reach the high levels, not at the start of the low-carb diet, and then you must keep yourself in ketosis and continue on with the diet until all of the cancer is gone.   Then you should follow a low carbohydrate maintenance diet to prevent it from coming back. Once again,  you cannot go back to your old eating habits after having cancer.

Acid/Alkaline balance

Acidic foods add hydrogen molecules to the body therefore making your body more acidic, alkaline foods remove hydrogen molecules thus making your body more alkaline.  Processed foods, meat, sugar, grains, dairy, soda, coffee, and alcoholic beverages are all acidic.  Diets which are based on these foods will cause your body to lose precious minerals from your skeletal system in an attempt to re-balance the pH.  The standard American diet is highly acidic and this is why osteoporosis rates are so common in the US.  Acidic cells create an acidic body, and an acidic body is a precursor for disease. Some signs of excess acidity will include fatigue with general aches and pains. Acidosis is especially problematic because it interferes with normal cell function. An example of this is in the production of white blood cells which are essential for a strong immune system. Poor quality white blood cells are produced in acidic environments, making it easy for infections and diseases to take hold.

The goal with saliva is 7.2 – 7.4

You can test your pH levels using pH Testing Strips hat are made for saliva and urine. These can be purchased from health food stores or online, and can be used to give you a measurement of what is going on inside of your body. The proper strip to purchase is a narrow or short range strip, which will measure from 5.0 to 9.5 or so.  Your goal is for your saliva pH to reach 7.2-7.4 in which cancer cells cannot thrive.  Elaine does not test urine because the ketogenic diet causes the body to release excess acids into the urine.  Read more Acid/ Alkaline Balance and how to test saliva pH.

One way that she raised her pH was by drinking alkaline water.  You can find alkaline water in many health food stores and some grocery stores, or you can make water more alkaline by adding Organic Wheat Grass Powder to filtered water, or by adding the juice of 4 lemons along with their skins, 1/2 tsp of sea salt, and 1 tbsp of raw organic honey to one gallon of water and drinking this throughout the day.


“Cancer is not a genetic disease it is a disease of the mitochondria.” Thomas Seyfried’s lecture on using metabolic therapies such as the ketogenic diet for the treatment of cancer.

Dr Mercola interviews Dr D’Agostino on the ketogenic diet

Additional Resources:


If you have had your gallbladder removed you will need to supplement with pancreatic enzymes to help you break down proteins and fats.

Read more testimonials for the ketogenic diet

Kelli O’Brien used the ketogenic diet to heal from brain cancer

Joe Mancaruso heals stage 4 lung cancer with a ketogenic diet

Dr Fred Hatfield heals from stage 4 prostate cancer with a ketogenic diet

  The Cantin Ketogenic Diet For Cancer, Type 1 & 2 Diabetes, Epilepsy & Other Ailments

Just Fitter Ketone Test Strips

 Nurse Hatty® – 200ct. pH Strips

Related Articles
Cancer is a wake up call which needs to be addressed on multiple fronts.  It is the result of an overly toxic body with an overwhelmed and collapsed immune system due to eating nutritionally depleted diets, exposure to toxins, and having poor lifestyle habits. Research an anticancer diet, adding supplements, detoxing the body, and making lifestyle changes so you can address a cancerous situation with a multifaceted approach.


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