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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Christine Akbar, (who is also noted in this article for compiling the case records) was diagnosed in 1985 with inflammatory breast cancer, with extensive intraductal and infiltrating duct carcinoma, severe chronic inflammation and extensive lymphatic invasion. Chris was told by her doctors that she might have only two to three months to live, even with medical treatment. She started chemotherapy, and continued until it was deemed her white blood count was so low it was dangerous to proceed. When her twin sister then gave her an autobiographical book detailing a doctor’s use of macrobiotics to support his own recovery from prostate cancer, the reasoning she heard in this book made sense to her. She started macrobiotics, attended a seminar at the Kushi Institute, and after two months following the diet, her cancer symptoms, as well the symptoms created by chemotherapy, disappeared.
In 1982, while undergoing a routine gallbladder surgery, it was found that Norman Arnold had a large primary cancer at the head of his pancreas, a smaller tumor in a lymph node, and three cancerous lesions on his liver. The biopsy showed a diagnosis of adenocarcinoma, a highly aggressive form of cancer. He was told by his doctors that there was no cure and no hope of recovery. Even to this day, patients with pancreatic cancer are not expected to live long following diagnosis. He underwent chemotherapy, but with devastating effects, and the doctors could not say that the chemotherapy would even prolong his life. He commenced a macrobiotic practice and soon noticed improvement in how he felt on many levels, physically and mentally. Nine months after his diagnosis, a CT scan showed clear indication of tumor reduction. Six months later, there was no trace of cancer. On his sixtieth birthday in January 1990, Norman climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. He remains in excellent health 20 years after being diagnosed with a terminal disease.
Though Marlene McKenna arrived at the CAPCAM meeting in the afternoon too late to give personal testimony, according to Dr. Yu, “Her case was the most important, with some fortune on our side.” The importance of Ms. McKenna’s case is that it is virtually unheard of for a patient with malignant melanoma to survive. Her case was severe, spread to the abdomen and nodes. After an operation in which two feet of her intestines were removed, Ms. McKenna was told she had at the most six months to live, and that there was a large amount of melanoma left in her abdomen. She then declined all further treatment and turned to macrobiotics. Ms. McKenna recovered fully, and is still cancer-free today, sixteen years later. It was a lucky coincidence that the critiquing pathologist who was at the CAPCAM to give expert discussion on the cases had been the same pathologist reviewing her case in 1986. He remarkably remembered it clearly, and told the panel that the diagnosis was absolutely correct. He was shocked to see that Ms. McKenna had recovered fully and was still alive. He stated that this was the most profound case of his life, and would like to publish her story. (As Dr. Yu sagely reminds us, “Fortune in life comes as surprises and the coincidence perhaps was not an accident.”) In addition, Ms. McKenna had become friends with her surgeon, Dr. Benedict Cosimi, who is one of the prominent transplant surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Harvard School of Medicine. There would be no disputing Dr. Cosimi’s diagnosis in her case, and Ms. McKenna called Dr. Cosimi the night before the CAPCAM review to verify his finding of metastatic disease, which he confirmed.