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Fat and Lung Cancer

In a review of the relation of diet, lifestyle, and lung cancer, researchers found that calories from dietary fat were highly significantly associated with lung cancer mortality. For example, male lung cancer deaths are highest in West European countries where a high-fat diet is consumed, and lowest in Thailand, Philippines, Honduras, Guatemala, and Japan where a low-fat diet is eaten.
While noting that smoking is still the major causative factor of lung cancer, the scientists theorized that a high-fat diet might also trigger the process by which cigarette smoke is harmful to the lungs. It is conceivable that “tobacco smoke is readily oxidized to the ultimate carcinogen as a consequence of a high-fat diet.”

Source: Ernst L. Wynder, James R. Hebert, and Geoffrey Kabat, “Association of Dietary Fat and Lung Cancer,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 79:631-37, 1987.

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Vegetables and Lung Cancer

A Chicago study found that regular consumption of foods containing beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, protected against lung cancer. Over a period of nineteen years, a group of 1,954 men at a Western Electric plant were monitored, and those who regularly consumed carrots, dark green lettuce, spinach, broccoli, kale, Chinese cabbage, peaches, apricots, and other carotene-rich foods had significantly lower lung cancer rates than controls.

Source: R. B. Shekelle et al., “Dietary Vitamin A and Risk of Cancer in the Western Electric Study,” Lancet 2:1185-90, 1981.

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Diet and Leukemia in chickens

In 1972 a Japanese scientist reported that leukemia in chickens could be reversed by feeding them a mixture of whole grains and salt. The experiment was conducted by Keiichi Morishita, M.D., technical chief for the Tokyo Red Cross Blood Center and vice president of the New Blood Association.

Source: K. Morishita, M.D., The Hidden Truth of Cancer (San Francisco: George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation, 1972).

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Fiber and Esophageal Cancer

An epidemiological study found that populations with a low risk of esophageal cancer in Africa and Asia consume more millet, cassava, yams, peanuts, and other foods high in fiber or starch than high-risk groups.

Source: S. J. van Rensburg, “Epidemiologic and Dietary Evidence for a Specific Nutritional Predisposition to Esophageal Cancer,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 67:243-51, 1981.

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Lentils and Esophageal Tumors

A study in the Caspian littoral of Iran, an area of high esophageal cancer, associated this disease with lower intake of lentils and other pulses, cooked green vegetables, and other whole foods.

Source: H. Hormozdiari et al., “Dietary Factors and Esophageal Cancer in the Caspian Littoral of Iran,” Cancer Research 35:3493-98, 1975.

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Beans and Bile Acids

Beans lowered bile acid production by 30 percent in men with a tendency toward elevated bile acid. Bile acids are necessary for proper fat digestion but in excess have been associated with causing cancer, especially in the large intestine. Case-control studies showed that pinto and navy beans were effective in lowering bile acid production in men at high risk for this condition.

Source: J. Anderson, “Hypocholesterolemic Effects of Oat-Bran or Bean Intake for Hypercholesterolemic Men,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 40:1146-55, 1984.

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Cruciferous Vegetables and Colon Cancer

In Norway, researchers examined the colons of 155 people in their fifties who had no signs of colon cancer. Half had polyps growing in the colon; the half with no polyps ate more cruciferous vegetables. The less cruciferous vegetables consumed, the greater the risk for polyps and the larger and more abnormal the polyps.

Source: G. Hoff et. al., Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 21:199, 1986.

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Diet and Colon Cancer

Men in Finland consume a lot of fat and have the highest heart disease rate in the industrialized world. Yet they have one of the lowest colon cancer rates (one-third that of the U.S.). Researchers around the world have found that whole cereal grains protect against colon cancer by reducing bile acid concentrates in the large intestine and giving bulk to the feces. Investigators found that Finnish men consume high amounts of whole rye bread and had bowel movements three times bulkier than men in other Western countries as well as reduced amounts of bile acid buildup.

Source: H. N. Englyst et al., “Nonstarch Polysaccharide Concentrations in Four Scandinavian Populations,”Nutrition & Cancer 4:50-60, 1982.

Eating more whole grains, vegetables, and fruit may lower a person’s risk for colorectal cancer by up to 40 percent. Researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia looked at thirty-seven studies involving 10,000 people in fifteen countries and reported that those who ate a diet high in whole grains and other plant-quality foods had about 40 percent less risk of this disease.

Source: Bruce Tock, Elaine Lanza, and Peter Greenwald, “Dietary Fiber, Vegetables, and Colon Cancer: Critical Review and Meta-analyses of the Epidemiologic Evidence,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 82:650-661, 1990.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health reported that men with the lowest fat intake, averaging 24 percent of calories, had only half the rate of colon polyps, a common precursor of colon cancer, as men eating the usual amount of fat. “A modest reduction [of fat such as proposed by current medical guidelines] will not appreciably reduce the risk,” said Dr. Tim Byers of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. He described an effective cancer-prevention diet as one that included six servings a day of whole grains and legumes and five or six servings of vegetables and fruits.

Source: “Very Low Rate of Fat in Diet Is Advised to Fight Cancer,” Boston Globe, April 23, 1991.

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Research on Cancer and Macrobiotics

In a study of patients with advanced malignancies who followed a macrobiotic way of eating, Vivien Newbold, M.D., a Philadelphia physician documented six cases of remission. The patients had pancreatic cancer with metastases to the liver; malignant melanoma; malignant astrocytoma; endometrial stromal sarcoma; adenocarcinoma of the colon; and inoperable intra-abdominal leimyosarcoma. Review of CT scans and other medical tests revealed no evidence of tumors after adherence to the macrobiotic diet. All of the patients (except for one whose cancer came back after she discontinued macrobiotics) were reported working full time, leading very active lives, and feeling in excellent health. The cases were all reviewed independently and the diagnoses confirmed by the pathology and radiology departments of Holy Redeemer Hospital in Meadowbrook, Pa. In a review of her study, Congressional investigators recommended further research on the macrobiotic approach to cancer: “If cases such as Newbold’s were presented in the medical literature, it might help stimulate interest among clinical investigators in conducting controlled, prospective trials of macrobiotic regimens, which could provide valid data on effectiveness.”

Source: Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), Unconventional Cancer Treatments (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1990).

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Macrobiotics and Cancer

In the first major scientific study of the macrobiotic approach to cancer, researchers at Tulane University reported that the 1-year survival rate among patients with pancreatic cancer was significantly higher among those who modified their diet than among those who did not (17 months versus 6 months). The one-year survival rate was 54.2 percent in the macrobiotic patients versus 10.0 percent in the controls. All comparisons were statistically significant.

For patients with metastatic prostate cancer, a case control study demonstrated that those who ate macrobiotically lived longer (177 months compared to 91 months) and enjoyed an improved quality of life. The researchers concluded that the macrobiotic approach may be an effective adjunctive treatment to conventional treatment or in primary management of cancers with a nutritional association. “This exploratory analysis suggests that a strict macrobiotic diet is more likely to be effective in the long-term management of cancer than are diets that provide a variety of other foods,” the study concluded.
Source: James P. Carter et al., “Hypothesis: Dietary Management May Improve Survival from Nutritionally Linked Cancers Based on Analysis of Representative Cases,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 12:209-226, 1993.

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