The Cancer Advisory Panel on Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAPCAM) studied the cases of six cancer patients, presented by the Kushi Institute to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The meeting was held on February 25, 2002, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to which CAPCAM belongs. NCI is a division of NIH and is the U.S. Government’s main agency for research and information about cancer. The NCI states it “. . . will support rigorous scientific investigation of approaches with positive Best Case Series reviews.” The outcome of this historic event is overwhelmingly positive for the Kushi Institute and the macrobiotic movement in general.In order to have a fair evaluation of the modality being reviewed, the CAPCAM is split among members who come from conventional and alternative viewpoints. The panelists rigorously reviewed the medical and macrobiotic evidence presented by the Kushi Institute, in order to determine if macrobiotics may have been the critical factor in the survival of these patients, thereby warranting governmental funding for research
All of the six persons whose cases were reviewed had been diagnosed with IVth stage metastasized cancer. All claim their seemingly miraculous full recoveries were the result of following a macrobiotic practice, which they all still do to this day. The CAPCAM review included viewing patient slides and records, hearing expert testimony from a radiologist and pathologist, and listening to an explanation on macrobiotic theory and practice from Phiya Kushi, Executive Director of the Kushi Institute. In addition, three of the six persons whose cases were being reviewed were on hand to give personal testimony and to answer questions from the panelists. At the end of a day-long, rigorous review, the panel of 15 physicians and scientists agreed that the evidence presented was impressive, and proved that macrobiotics as a Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapy is worthy of further study.
Furthermore, the panel voted unanimously to recommend to the NCI that governmental funding should be provided to the Kushi Institute for a prospective and full clinical study on macrobiotics and cancer!
This is a landmark event, as there has never been a unanimous agreement by the CAPCAM such as in the Kushi Institute review.
This review was the first stage of the Kushi Institute’s submission in the Best Case Series, an ongoing project of the NCI in its efforts to evaluate and support promising Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practices. And well it should — studies show that over half of the United States’ population uses CAM therapies, yet less than half of one percent of the over twenty billion dollar budget of the NIH is appropriated to study and research of CAM methodsThe CAPCAM recommendation is wonderful news. For the past fifty years, macrobiotics has been a grass-roots movement. Its constant growth has been due to the ever-growing number of testimonials from people the world over whose illnesses have been reversed through macrobioticsMany people, however, will not consider macrobiotics without scientific verification. This strong acknowledgement by a governmental agency could lead not only to governmental funding, but also might create new direction from private donors who want to support studies on macrobiotics and nutritional approaches for cancer recovery; inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, and Crohns disease; cardiovascular diseases; and metabolic diseases such as diabetes. Macrobiotics is a natural and safe approach that has been effective in supporting recovery from all of these illnesses, and studies will make macrobiotic education and information available on a broader scale. Although considered a CAM therapy by the medical and scientific establishments, according to Kushi Institute Executive Director Phiya Kushi, macrobiotics should not be considered an alternative, and placed in the same category as herbs, supplements, acupuncture, and other therapies which, like Western Medicine, can be helpful but address illness in a more symptomatic fashion.
Mr. Kushi states, “Macrobiotics is the art and science of health and longevity through the study and understanding of the relation and interactions between ourselves, the foods we eat, the lifestyles we choose to lead, and the environments in which we live. The macrobiotic approach to health recovery can be used along with conventional and alternative medical treatment and intervention, and is compatible with and adaptable to all forms of religious and traditional cultural practices.”
For the past fifty years, the Kushi Institute has been quietly transforming people’s health and quality of life. When the recommendations of the CAPCAM become a reality, macrobiotics will become more widely known. The greatest benefit of all from what happened on February 25, will be that more people facing cancer will be able to find out about the natural macrobiotic approach to cancer recovery, and like the six cases reviewed, will have new choices and the possibility of regaining a long and cancer-free life.
Noted Ph.D. Reports on the CAPCAM Meeting
Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. a medical journalist and CAPCAM member, praised the Kushi Institute following its Best Case Series presentation to the NCI. In his nationally published Moss Reports Newsletter, (Feb 27, 2002), he writes: “The members of the panel (i.e. CAPCAM) have displayed an extraordinary degree of expertise in their respective fields…cancer treatment, diagnostic radiology, tumor pathology and statistics. For the last few years, NCI has been asking alternative practitioners to submit their best cases for evaluation… yet surprisingly few alternative practitioners have taken up this challenge.
“At this week’s session, one group did. This was macrobiotics, promoted by the Kushi Institute of Becket, Mass. The session brought forth strong testimony that sometimes the adoption of a macrobiotic diet is followed by the dramatic regression of advanced cancers. A nurse told how, in 1995, she was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread all over her body. She received no effective conventional therapy, and reluctantly went on the macrobiotics diet…What makes this case so extraordinary is that her progress was monitored weekly by a sympathetic physician colleague. The shrinkage, and finally the disappearance, of her tumors was documented millimeter by millimeter! She has now been disease-free for over five years…
“After this week’s meeting I could definitely say there is real gold in macrobiotics. But whether these herald a genuine strike, a Sutter’s Mill, or just a few stray nuggets, I cannot say. What is needed now is a serious clinical study in patients, using all the resources the NIH can muster. The Kushi Institute deserves credit for having taken these first steps towards documenting its methods and results. An influential governmental panel is at last listening.”
“And just last month, in the September, 2002 issue of The Moss Reports Newsletter, Dr. Moss once again referred to the Kushi Institute study: In further commenting upon the January, 2002 CAPCAM meeting, he says:
“My colleagues and I were impressed by the rigor with which they [the Kushi Institute] documented several remissions from cancer that could only have come about by the patients’ strict adherence to the macrobiotic diet.”
The Stories That Made the Experts Listen!
Here are the “shining stars” of the CAPCAM review – the six courageous people, who, when they were told there was no chance of their survival from metastatic cancer, all chose to positively take action with macrobiotics. Without their willingness to participate in the NCI’s
Best Case Series, the CAPCAM review of macrobiotic success cases would never have been able to happen.
Janet Vitt is the nurse who was discussed in The Moss Reports Newsletter (see sidebar: Noted Ph.D. Reports on CAPCAM Meeting). In 1995, Janet was diagnosed with small cell adenocarcenoma of the lung, metastasized to the liver, pancreas, abdomen and lymph. Despite medical efforts her condition severely declined to the point where she was bedridden and on oxygen. Hospice had been called in and she met with her family to sign the “do-not-resuscitate” papers. At this point, her primary care physician did something for which Janet says she will forever be thankful–he suggested she try macrobiotics–and with family and friends supporting her in the preparation of meals, she recovered full, cancer-free health. She is currently still in excellent health–seven years after a prognosis of certain death.
Judy MacKenney was also present to give personal testimony to the CAPCAM panel. She was diagnosed in 1991 with metastatic non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and informed by her doctors that this type of cancer was inoperable and incurable. She underwent chemotherapy, which put her into what the doctors considered temporary remission, but which left her extremely weak and with many painful symptoms from chemotherapy side-effects. She then began a macrobiotic practice, and within two weeks all her symptoms began to regress. She remains cancer-free, eleven years later at this point. Her case showed that the effect of macrobiotics is fairly quick in some cases.
After ovarian cancer progressed to IVth stage and spread to bones in the spine, leaving her in a wheel chair with back braces, Elaine Nussbaum’s doctors thought that she would not recover from cancer, let alone ever walk again. Yet twenty years later, walk she did to the CAPCAM table in order to describe how after a short time on a macrobiotic practice she was able to regain her health and all other abilities formerly lost during her bout with cancer. Her case showed all visceral fat was gone as well as her tumor.
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.
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.
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.