& Medical Research on Cancer & Diet
is a wealth of studies on cancer and diet.
Research on Cancer and Macrobiotics
foods and Cancer
Miso Soup and Cancer
and Longevity in Japan
Diet vs. Conventional Treatment
Diet and Colon Cancer
Vegetables and Colon Cancer
Beans and Bile Acids
and Esophageal Tumors
Fiber and Esophageal Cancer
Diet and Leukemia
and Lung Cancer
Fat and Lung Cancer
Shiitake and Sarcomas
Vegetables and Sarcomas
Miso Soup and Stomach Cancer
Tofu and Stomach Cancer
Cholesterol and Lung Cancer
Soy Sauce and Cancer
and Bladder Cancer
Fruits and Vegetables and Cancer
Diet and Leukemia
and Pancreatic Cancer
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.
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.
on Cancer and Macrobiotics
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
Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), Unconventional Cancer Treatments (Washington,
D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1990).
Sauce and Cancer
high rate of stomach cancer in Japan caused some Japanese scientists to speculate
that a diet high in soy sauce might be a factor. However, researchers at the University
of Wisconsin observed just the opposite. In laboratory tests, mice given fermented
soy sauce experienced 26 percent less cancer than mice on the regular diet. Also
soy-supplemented mice averaged about one-quarter the number of tumors per mouse
as the control group. Soy sauce "exhibited a pronounced anticarcinogenic
effect," the researchers concluded.
J. Raloff, "A Soy Sauce Surprise," Science News, 139:357, 1991.
Foods and Cancer
a workshop sponsored by the National Cancer Institute on the role of soy products
in cancer prevention, medical researchers presented evidence that soybeans and
soy products such as tofu, miso, and tempeh can help prevent the onset of induced
cancer in laboratory animals. "The consensus of the meeting was that there
are sufficient data to justify studying the impact of soybean intake on cancer
risk in humans," the researchers reported.
Mark Messina and Stephen Barnes, "The Role of Soy Products in Reducing Risk
of Cancer," Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83:54146, 1991.
Soup and Cancer
diet rich in soyfoods, especially miso soup, produces genistein, a natural substance
that blocked the growth of new blood vessels that feed a tumor, scientists reported.
Researchers from Children's University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany, reported
that genistein also deterred cancer cells from multiplying and could have significant
implications for the prevention and treatment of solid malignancies, including
those of the brain, breast, and prostate.
"Chemists Learn Why Vegetables Are Good for You," New York Times, April
and Longevity in Japan
reported that cancer of the lung, breast, and colon increased two to three times
among Japanese women between 1950 and 1975. During that period, milk consumption
increased fifteen times; meat, eggs, and poultry climbed seven and a half times;
and rice consumption dropped 70 percent. In Okinawa, with the highest proportion
of centenarians, longevity was associated with lowered sugar and salt intake and
higher intake of protein and green and yellow vegetables.
Y. Kagawa, "Impact of Westernization on the Nutrition of Japan," Preventive
Medicine 7:205-17, 1978.
vs. Conventional Treatment
1985 the National Cancer Institute reported that radiation therapy and chemotherapy
were ineffective and in some cases produced toxic side-effects as follow-ups to
surgery in the treatment of cancer. "Except possibly in selected patients
with cancer of the stomach, there has been no demonstrated improvement in the
survival of patients with the ten most common cancers when radiation therapy,
chemotherapy, or both have been added to surgical resection." The ten most
common cancers include lung, colorectum, breast, prostate, uterus, bladder, pancreas,
stomach, skin, and kidney. Shortly after the report was published, the author,
Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, the N.C.I.'s chief of surgery, operated on President
Ronald Reagan's colon cancer and instead of chemotherapy or radiation treatment
put him on a modified whole grain diet.
Steven A. Rosenberg, "Combined-Modality Therapy of Cancer," New England
Journal of Medicine 312:1512-14 and Alex Jack, personal communication with the
White House, July, 1985.
1968 an epidemiological study indicated that dietary habits and environmental
influences are the chief determinants of the world's varying cancer rates and
not genetic factors. Data showed that in the course of three generations, Japanese
migrants in the United States contracted colon cancer at the same rates as the
general American population. In contrast, the regular colon cancer rate in Japan
remained about one-fourth the American incidence.
W. Haenszel and M. Kurihara, "Studies of Japanese Migrants," Journal
of the National Cancer Institute 40:43-68.
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.
H. N. Englyst et al., "Nonstarch Polysaccharide Concentrations in Four Scandinavian
Populations,"Nutrition & Cancer 4:50-60, 1982.
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.
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.
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
"Very Low Rate of Fat in Diet Is Advised to Fight Cancer," Boston Globe,
April 23, 1991.
Vegetables and Colon Cancer
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.
G. Hoff et. al., Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 21:199, 1986.
and Bile Acids
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.
J. Anderson, "Hypocholesterolemic Effects of Oat-Bran or Bean Intake for
Hypercholesterolemic Men," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 40:1146-55,
and Esophageal Tumors
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.
H. Hormozdiari et al., "Dietary Factors and Esophageal Cancer in the Caspian
Littoral of Iran," Cancer Research 35:3493-98, 1975.
and Esophageal Cancer
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.
S. J. van Rensburg, "Epidemiologic and Dietary Evidence for a Specific Nutritional
Predisposition to Esophageal Cancer," Journal of the National Cancer Institute
and Leukemia in chickens
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.
K. Morishita, M.D., The Hidden Truth of Cancer (San Francisco: George Ohsawa Macrobiotic
and Lung Cancer
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.
R. B. Shekelle et al., "Dietary Vitamin A and Risk of Cancer in the Western
Electric Study," Lancet 2:1185-90, 1981.
and Lung Cancer
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.
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.
who regularly eat cereal grains, pulses, vegetables, seeds, and nuts are less
likely to get lymphoma or Hodgkin's disease than persons who do not usually eat
these foods, according to a 1976 survey based on World Health Organization data.
Source: A. S. Cunningham,
"Lymphomas and Animal-Protein Consumption," Lancet 2:1184-86.
scientists at the National Cancer Center Research Institute reported that shiitake
mushrooms had a strong anti-tumor effect. In experiments with mice, polysaccharide
preparations from various natural sources, including the shiitake mushroom commonly
available in Tokyo markets, markedly inhibited the growth of induced sarcomas
resulting in "almost complete regression of tumors . . . with no sign of
G. Chihara et al., "Fractionation and Purification of the Polysaccharides
with Marked Antitumor Activity, Especially Lentinan, from Lentinus edodes (Berk.)
Sing. (An Edible Mushroom)," Cancer Research 30:2776-81, 1970.
Vegetables and Sarcomas
scientists reported that several varieties of kombu and mojaban, common sea vegetables
eaten in Asia and traditionally used as a decoction for cancer in Chinese herbal
medicine, were effective in the treatment of tumors in laboratory experiments.
In three of four samples tested, inhibition rates in mice with implanted sarcomas
ranged from 89 to 95 percent. The researchers reported that "the tumor underwent
complete regression in more than half of the mice of each treated group. "
Similar experiments on mice with leukemia showed promising results.
I. Yamamoto et al., "Antitumor Effect of Seaweeds," Japanese Journal
of Experimental Medicine 44:543-46, 1974.
Soup and Stomach Cancer
National Cancer Center reported that people who eat miso soup daily are 33 percent
less likely to contract stomach cancer and 19 percent less likely to contract
cancer at other sites than those who never eat miso soup. The thirteen-year study,
involving about 265,000 men and women over forty, also found that those who never
ate miso soup had a 43 percent higher death rate from coronary heart disease than
those who consumed miso soup daily. Those who abstained from miso also had 29
percent more fatal strokes, three and a half times more deaths resulting from
high blood pressure, and higher mortality from all other causes.
T. Hirayama, "Relationship of Soybean Paste Soup Intake to Gastric Cancer
Risk," Nutrition and Cancer 3:223-33, 1981.
and Stomach Cancer
cancer researchers found that people who regularly ate tofu were at less risk
for stomach cancer than those who did not.
T. Hirayama, "Epidemiology of Stomach Cancer," in T. Murakami (ed.),
Early Gastric Cancer. Gann Monograph on Cancer Research, 11 (Tokyo: University
of Tokyo Press, pp. 3-19), 1971.
Indian cancer researcher concluded that thorough chewing lowered the risk of cancer.
"The proper chewing of meals ensuring that mucous-rich saliva mixed with
the food seemed to be protective factors." Cancer also appeared to be more
prevalent in South India where white rice and considerably more fat, oil, and
spices are used in cooking than in Northern India where whole-grain chapatis and
thick dal made with lentils are the staple.
S. L. Malhotra, "Dietary Factors in a Study of Cancer Colon from Cancer Registry,
with Special Reference to the Role of Saliva, Milk and Fermented Milk Products,
and Vegetable Fibre," Medical Hypotheses 3:122-26, 1977.
and Lung Cancer
studies of men employed by the Western Electric Company in Chicago, researchers
reported that men who ingested 500 milligrams or more of dietary cholesterol a
day faced almost twice the risk of lung cancer as those who ate less than that
amount. Eggs were cited as the chief cause.
R. B. Shekelle et al., "Dietary Cholesterol and Incidence of Lung Cancer,"
American Journal of Epidemiology 134:48084, 1992.
at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported that they had identified
the ingredient in broccoli that worked as a powerful anticancer compound in laboratory
experiments. The chemical, sulforaphane, boosts the production of an important
enzyme known to neutralize carcinogens before they trigger tumor growth. In addition
to broccoli, sulforaphane is found in bok choy, ginger, scallions, and other vegetables.
Source: Paul Talalay,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 16, 1992.
and Bladder Cancer
a case-control study in Hawaii, researchers reported a decreased risk for bladder
cancer among women who consumed vegetables and fruits high in vitamin C, such
as broccoli, cabbage, and oranges, and among men who consumed dark green vegetables
such as watercress, broccoli, and spinach.
A.M.Y. Nomura et al., "Dietary Factors in Cancer of the Lower Urinary Tract,"
International Journal of Cancer 48:199205.
and Vegetables and Cancer
a review of 200 studies that examined the relationship between fruit and vegetable
intake and cancer at selected sites, researchers found that consumption of these
foods offered a significantly protective effect in 128 of 156 dietary studies
in which results were expressed in terms of relative risk. For lung cancer, these
foods were protective in 24 of 25 studies after control for smoking in most instances.
Fruit was protective for tumors of the esophagus, oral cavity, and larynx in 28
of 29 studies. Vegetables and fruit were protective in 26 of 30 studies for the
pancreas and stomach, as well as in colorectal and bladder cancers (23 of 38 studies).
For malignancies of the cervix, ovary, and endometrium, a significant protective
effect was shown in 11 of 13 studies. In breast cancer, a protective effect was
found to be strong and consistent in meta-analysis. Overall, the relative risk
of cancer was about twice as high for those eating few fruits and vegetables compared
to those who ate plenty of these foods.
1854, John Snow stopped a cholera epidemic simply by taking the handle off the
pump. The research presented above suggests that consumption of fruits and vegetables
may be a handle that, if manipulated by public policy, clinical advice, and public
education, could have a substantial impact on a wide range of cancers," the
Gladys Block et al., "Fruits, Vegetables, and Cancer Prevention: A Review
of the Epidemiological Evidence," Nutrition and Cancer 18:1-29, 1992.
one of the first studies of the relationship between diet and leukemia, researchers
found a strong correlation between total caloric intake and both lymphoid and
total leukemia incidence, especially among males. "The findings from this
rigorous analysis of international data strengthen and expand the hypothesis based
on previous simple correlation analyses and animal experiments that an underlying
biological relationship exists between diet, particularly energy intake, and international
variations in the incidence of certain types of human leukemia."
S. D. Hursting et al., "Diet and Human Leukemia: An Analysis of International
Data," Preventive Medicine 22:409-22, 1993.
and Pancreatic Cancer
a study of risk factors for pancreatic cancer, researchers found that mortality
from this disease was associated with increased consumption of meat, the smoking
of cigarettes, and alcohol intake.
W. Zheng et al., "A Cohort Study of Smoking, Alcohol Consumption, and Dietary
Factors for Pancreatic Cancer," Cancer Causes and Control 4:477-82, 1993.