Scientific and Medical Studies
The opening story in the Book of Daniel in the Bible is the world’s oldest nutrition experiment.
• The Book of Daniel
During the Babylonian Captivity, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded several of the most gifted young men of Israel to be brought to court to enter the royal service. The king instructed Malasar, the master of his household, to feed Daniel and his three companions the best meat and wine from the royal table. The Israelites, however, refused the rich food and instead asked for the simple meals they were accustomed to. The steward rejected their request, fearing that he would lose his head if the king saw Daniel and his friends undernourished in comparison to the young Babylonians their age also in training for royal service. Daniel replied: “Try, I beseech thee, thy servants for ten days, and let pulse [whole grains, lentils, seeds] be given us to eat, and water to drink. And look upon our faces, and the faces of the children that eat of the king’s meat: and as thou shalt see, deal with thy servants. And when he had heard these words, he tried them for ten days. And after ten days their faces appeared fairer and fatter than all the children that ate of the king’s meat. So Malasar took their portions, and the wine that they should drink: and he gave them pulse. And to these children God gave knowledge and understanding in every book, and wisdom: but to Daniel the understanding also of all visions and dreams.”[i]
As the world’s first nutrition experiment, the episode involves two groups (an intervention group of young Jews and a control group of young Babylonians), dietary variables (a plant vs. animal-based diet), a set duration (10 days), observable outcomes (change in countenance, disposition, and physique), and an impartial investigator (steward of the palace of the king of Babylon). As a result of his macrobiotic diet and divine favor, Daniel became the principal adviser to the King, a great prophet, and leader who helped deliver his people from captivity.
In comparison with the standard modern way of eating, the macrobiotic dietary approach has the following general nutritional characteristics:[ii]
• More Complex Carbohydrates More complex carbohydrates, fewer simple sugars
• More Plant Protein More vegetable-quality protein, less animal quality protein
• Less Fat and Oil Less overall fat consumption, more polyunsaturated fat, and less saturated fat
• Less Supplements A balance of various naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and less supplementation
• More Organic Food Use of more organically grown, natural food and more traditional food processing techniques and less chemically grown, artificially produced, or chemically processed foods
• More Whole Food Consumption of food primarily in whole form and less refined, partial, or processed food
• More Natural Food Greater consumption of food that is high in natural fiber, antioxidants, and phytoestrogens and less food that has been devitalized by overprocessing, genetic engineering, irradiation, or other artificial technologies
Over the years, scientific and medical studies have generally found that the macrobiotic way of eating meets current nutritional guidelines. These studies include:
Landmark Report Links Diet with Degenerative Disease
Summarizing its conclusions on the nation’s way of eating, health, and future direction, the historic Senate report, (also known as the McGovern Report after its chairman, former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern) launched the modern nutritional revolution in 1977: “During this century, the composition of the average diet in the United States has changed radically. Complex carbohydrates— fruit, vegetables, and grain products—which were the mainstay of the diet, now play a minority role. At the same time, fat and sugar consumption have risen to the point where these two dietary elements alone now comprise at least 60 percent of total calorie intake, up from 50 percent in the early 1900s. In the view of doctors and nutritionists consulted by the Select Committee, these and other changes in the diet amount to a wave of malnutrition—of both over- and underconsumption—that may be as profoundly damaging to the Nation’s health as the widespread contagious diseases of the early part of this century. The overconsumption of fat, generally, and saturated fat in particular, as well as cholesterol, sugar, salt, and alcohol have been related to six of the leading causes of death: Heart disease, cancer, cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and cirrhosis of the liver.”
Macrobiotic educators Michio and Aveline Kushi; the East West Foundation under the leadership of Edward Esko and Stephen Uprichard; and under Sherman Goldman, Alex Jack, and Tom Monte wrote about the relationship of diet and degenerative disease and prepared materials or met with key experts and witnesses in the hearings.[iii]
• Macrobiotic Practice Meets Nutritional Guidelines
Researchers at the University of Rhode Island studied 76 macrobiotic people and reported in the in 1980 they met currently acceptable medical and nutritional guidelines, including mean values for hemoglobin, hematocrit, serum iron, and transferrin saturation, serum ascorbic acid, vitamin A, beta-carotene, riboflavin, vitamin B-12, and folate.[iv]
• Macrobiotic Diet Meets or Exceeds British RDAs
At the University of London, researchers measured the dietary intakes of 10 people practicing macrobiotics and they were found to be adequate in all major nutrients of the United Kingdom Recommended Daily amounts. All of the other nutrients either met the RDA’s or, in the case of vitamins A and C, thiamine, calcium, and iron, “far exceeded the recommendations.” “The macrobiotic diet as eaten by the participants of this study was found to conform with many of the recommendations put forward by recent [medical and scientific] reports on eating for health,” according to the chief researcher’s report in 1985.[v]
• The China Study
The world’s most comprehensive nutrition study supports a macrobiotic way of eating. A Chinese research project, hailed as the “Grand Prix of Epidemiology,” challenged modern dietary assumptions. Sponsored by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the Chinese Institute of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, the decade-long study in the 1990s correlated average food and nutrient intakes with disease mortality rates in 65 rural Chinese counties. The typical Chinese diet included a high proportion of cereal grains and vegetables and a low content of animal food. Less than 1 percent of deaths were caused by coronary heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases common in the West.
Study director Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a professor of nutrition at Cornell University and member of the expert committee that developed the U.S. Food Guide Pyramid, concluded:
• Reduce Fat Fat consumption should ideally be reduced to 10 to 15 percent of calories to prevent degenerative disease, not 30 percent as usually recommended
• Eat More Plant-Based Foods The lowest risk for cancer is generated by the consumption of a variety of fresh plant products
• Reduce Animal Protein Eating animal protein is a main cause of chronic disease. Compared to the Chinese who derive 11 percent of their protein from animal sources, Americans obtain 70 percent from animal food
• Natural Menstruation A rich diet that promotes early menstruation may increase a woman’s risk of cancer of the breast and reproductive organs. In the West, girls typically begin to menstruate at 11, in China at 17
• Strengthen Bones by Avoiding Dairy Dairy food is not needed to prevent osteoporosis, the thinning of the bones that is common
among older women, and indeed may be a cause for bone loss
• Eat Leafy Greens for Iron Meat consumption is not needed to prevent iron-deficiency anemia. The average Chinese consumes twice the iron Americans do, primarily from plant sources, and show no signs of anemia
Dr. Campbell, who grew up on a dairy farm, because a vegan as a result of his studies and frequently lectures at macrobiotic conferences. The healthy traditional Chinese diet, he explains, is essentially macrobiotic.[vi]
• Higher in Iron and Other Nutrients Than Standard Diet
Researchers at the University of Memphis and University of South Carolina evaluated the dietary pattern at the Kushi Institute’s Way to Health program and concluded in a 2015 article in that it had a lower percentage of potentially harmful fats, higher total dietary fiber, and higher amounts of most micronutrients, including beta-carotene, B vitamins, and iron, than the standard American diet. “Findings from this analysis of a macrobiotic diet plan indicate the potential for disease prevention and suggest the need for studies of real-world consumption as well as designing, implementing, and testing interventions based on the macrobiotic approach,” the scientists concluded.[vii]
• Rich in Nutrient-Dense Foods
In an article on the popular website WebMD.com, Dr. Michael Smith observed in 2016: “If you’re looking for a healthy eating plan, the macrobiotic diet is a good choice. It’s rich in nutrient-packed foods that are also low in calories. While there’s no absolute proof, medical research suggests diets that are mostly vegetables, fruits, and whole grains may lower the risk of several diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Either way, you’ll reap plenty of health benefits with this diet.”[viii]
In the early 1970s, Frank Sachs, a student at Harvard Medical School, was impressed with Michio Kushi’s lectures and arranged with his professors at Channing Laboratory to begin the first medical studies on macrobiotics. They focused on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other basic blood values. Several hundred members of the macrobiotic community volunteered for what turned out to be a series of studies that were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Atheroclerosis, and other major journals. The studies convincingly linked diet and heart disease, which until then had been largely neglected, and led to the first national dietary guidelines on the number one cause of death in modern society. The macrobiotic approach, including these studies, was featured in Michio Kushi’s Diet for a Strong Heart.
• Boston Macrobiotics at Zero Risk for Heart Disease
In a study of 210 men and women eating a macrobiotic diet, Harvard Medical School researchers found that the men had mean systolic blood pressures of 109.7 mm Hg and diastolic pressures of 60.9. The women had 100.9 and 58.2 respectively. Both of these measurements fell well within the normal blood pressure category and approached the systolic level of 100 under which Framingham Heart Study researchers theorized there would develop virtually no coronary heart disease
• Average Macrobiotic Cholesterol 126
Harvard Medical School researchers reported that Boston-area macrobiotic people had significantly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure than a control group from the Framingham Heart Study eating the standard American diet of meat, sugar, dairy foods, and highly processed, chemicalized foods. The average serum cholesterol in the macrobiotic group was 126 milligrams per deciliter versus 184 for controls. “The low plasma lipid levels in the vegetarians,” the researchers concluded in the , “resemble those reported for populations in nonindustrialized societies” where heart disease, cancer, and other degenerative illnesses are uncommon.[x]
• Surgeon General Cites Macrobiotic Diet for Heart Health
In his annual report in 1979, the U.S. Surgeon General reported for the first time that existing coronary heart disease could be relieved by dietary measures. “Direct evidence from animal studies supports the linkage of atherosclerosis with high levels of fats (particularly saturated) and cholesterol in the diet . . . [and] that Americans who habitually eat less fat rich foods ([macrobiotic] vegetarians and Seventh Day Adventists, for example) have less heart disease than other Americans; and that atherosclerotic plaques in certain arteries may be reversed by cholesterol-lowering diets.”[xi]
Pioneer Study Links Animal Food and High Blood Pressure
In one of the first studies to show the direct effects of animal food on raising blood pressure, a study of 21 macrobiotic persons by Harvard Medical School researchers in 1981 found that the addition of 250 grams of beef per day for four weeks to their regular diet of whole grains and vegetables raised serum cholesterol levels 19 percent. Systolic blood pressure also rose significantly. After returning to a low-fat diet, cholesterol and blood pressure values returned to previous levels, the researchers reported in ).[xii]
• Macrobiotic Practitioners Healthier Than Marathon Runners
William Castelli, M.D., director of the Framingham Heart Study, the nation’s oldest and largest cardiovascular research project, and a participant in research on macrobiotic people at Harvard Medical School, noted that macrobiotic people have healthier hearts and circulatory systems than conditioned athletes: “What a person eats every day is a very important aspect of how his or her health will be in every day as well as later life. Supporting this view is the fact that macrobiotic people studied had a ratio [of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol of] 2.5 and Boston marathon runners were at 3.4, ratios at which rarely, if ever, is coronary heart disease seen. Studies and observations such as these are a clear indicator that people need to take a critical look at their diet with the intention of making changes now.”[xiii]
• Macrobiotics Aids Angina Patients in New York Hospital
Physicians at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City reported that patients with angina pectoris, showed improved blood pressure values and lowered coronary risk factors after ten weeks on a macrobiotic diet and treatment with biofeedback. Dr. Kenneth Greenspan of the hospital’s Laboratory and Center for Stress Related Disorders, reported that cholesterol dropped from an average 300 to 220, levels of blood pressure also dropped, patients could walk about 20 percent farther in stress tests, and three patients with severe angina showed no symptoms at the end of the study.[xiv]
During the 20th century, the incidence of cancer in modern society soared, rising from 2% of the population in 1900 to 25% in the 1950s and 1960s. There was no effective treatment or cure, and many people felt it marked a death sentence. In Boston, Michio Kushi began to give personal dietary and way of life consultations, and many cancer patients came to him for advice. The first person to experience complete remission following a macrobiotic way of eating was Professor Jean Kohler, a university instructor in music at Ball State College in Indiana, who had pancreatic cancer, a nearly always fatal illness. Following his successful recovery in the late 1970s, the Kushis and their associates began to focus on cancer, especially now that the medical studies at Harvard and the Framingham Heart Study had shown that a balanced, whole foods diet could bring down high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease. [xv]
The East West Journal, the macrobiotic monthly magazine, focused on cancer and diet, publishing macrobiotic case histories, and investigating the ties of the medical profession to the food industry. Journalist Peter Barry Chowka wrote several influential investigative articles on the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute and their neglect of dietary and lifestyle factors in the etiology of the disease. The East West Foundation, under the Kushis’s auspices, sponsored the first Conference on Cancer and Diet, at Pine Manor College in Brookline, MA in 1977. The gathering brought together physicians, researchers, and many patients who had recovered using a macrobiotic approach. St. Martin’s Press brought out Kushi’s major book, The Cancer-Prevention Diet, co-authored by Alex Jack, editor-in-chief of East West Journal, in 1983. The book was translated into more than a dozen languages and included chapters on 20 major types of cancer, including a description of the food patterns underling their cause, dietary guidelines for recovery, home remedies, and lifestyle suggestions.
Over the years, hundreds—possibly thousands—of people, recovered from cancer with the help of macrobiotics. At the Kushi Institute in Becket, Massachusetts, the main residential center for macrobiotic education, the one-week Way to Health Program introduced individuals and families, many with cancer or other chronic diseases, to the principles and practices of macrobiotics, including daily cooking classes, menu planning, and proper use of home remedies. Many people who met with Michio Kushi or other counselors, or who attended programs at the K.I. (or affiliated campuses around the world) went on to lead healthy, fulfilling lives and chronicled their healing stories in their own books or articles. These included:
• Businessman Heals Pancreatic Cancer Norman Arnold, a businessman from South Carolina, who recovered from pancreatic cancer. He went on to live cancer-free for another 35 years and establish the Cancer Center at the University of South Carolina that employed several macrobiotic-oriented researchers.[xvi]
• Journalist Heals Metastatic Ovarian and Lymph Cancer Milenka Dobic, a journalist from Yugoslavia with ovarian and lymph cancer. She went on to become a leading macrobiotic teacher and counselor and described her recovery in My Beautiful Life.[xvii]
• Hollywood Star Recovers from Prostate Cancer Dirk Benedict, the actor and star of The A-Team and Battlestar Galactica, who recovered from prostate cancer.[xviii]
• Mother Overcomes Inoperable Uterine Tumor Elaine Nussbaum, a mother from New Jersey with an inoperable uterine tumor, who went on to become a leading macrobiotic teacher and cook.[xix]
• United Nations Official Recovers from Stomach Cancer Katsuhide Kitatani, deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, who had stomach cancer. He went on to found the U.N. Macrobiotic Society and 2050, a nonprofit development organization in Southeast Asia.[xx]
• Brain Tumor Overcome Mona Sanders, a young woman from Columbus, Mississippi, had a brain tumor. After recovering, she served as an assistant to Michio Kushi and moved to India, where she taught diet and health for the next 25 years.[xxi]
• Physician and Hospital President Heals Prostate Cancer Anthony Sattilaro, M.D., president of Methodist Hospital in Philadelphia, who had metastatic prostate cancer that spread to the bones, testicles, and other internal organs. Within a few weeks of starting a macrobiotic diet, the back pain he suffered for years eased, and after several months his tumors went away. One-year and four-year follow up scans at his own hospital confirmed that the cancer had completely disappeared. Dr. Sattilaro was profiled in East West Journal, Saturday Evening Post and Life magazines and went on to write a bestselling book with Tom Monte Recalled By Life.[xxii]
• Nurse Overcomes Metastatic Lung Cancer Janet E. Vitt, R.N., a nurse in Cleveland, had stage 4 lung cancer that had spread to her liver, pancreas, abdomen, and lymph system. After exhausting her medical options, she went to a macrobiotic counselor and after 10 months the tumors were all gone. Jane went on to become a macrobiotic cook, teacher, and counselor, guiding many people to greater health and well-being.
• Nurse Reverses Malignant Melanoma Virginia Brown, R.N., a nurse in Vermont, recovered from malignant melanoma. Her story appeared in Macrobiotic Miracle.[xxiv]
• Physician Documents Husband’s Recovery from Colon Cancer Vivian Newbold, M.D., a Philadelphia physician chronicled the recovery of her husband who had colon cancer.[xxv]
• Leukemia Survivor Turned Celebrity Chef Christina Pirello, a young woman with leukemia, married her macrobiotic counselor, Bob Pirello, and went on to become a macrobiotic teacher, chef, and Emmy-award winning star of the longtime PBS-TV show Christina Cooks![xxvi]
• Businessman Heals Prostate Cancer Ken Walles, a Long Island businessman, healed himself of prostate cancer with the help of macrobiotics. Through the Oceanside Beach Resort in Montauk, NY he observes a healthy diet and lifestyle.[xxvii]
Personal accounts are among the most powerful and convincing testimony on the benefits of macrobiotics. However, for the medical community, these claims needed to be evaluated scientifically. Over the years, there have been studies of the macrobiotic approach to cancer by the NIH, CDC, and other medical organizations and research centers:
• NIH Best Case Series of 77 Macrobiotic Cancer Recoveries
The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Macrobiotic Best Case Series undertaken by researchers at the University of Minnesota in the 1990s, documented the medical histories of 77 individuals who recovered from cancer with the help of macrobiotics. These included cancers of the prostate (20 cases), breast (12 cases), malignant melanoma (8), lymphoma (8), leukemia (6), astrocytoma (5), colorectal (4), endometrium (3), ovary (3), pancreas (3), kidney (2), liver (1), small cell lung (1), multiple myeloma (1), nose plasmacytoma (1), parotic gland (1), sarcoma (1), and small intestine (1).[xxviii]
• NCI Approves Clinical Study on Macrobiotics and Cancer
The Cancer Advisory Panel on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAPCAM), an expert committee of oncologists from the National Institute of Cancer (NCI), in 2003 reviewed the cases of six persons who had been diagnosed with IVth stage metastasized cancer and were part of the NIH Best Cases Series. The 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 by Michio Kushi. In addition, three of the six persons whose cases were being reviewed gave personal testimony and answered questions from the panelists. At the end of a day-long, rigorous review, the panel of 15 physicians and scientists voted unanimously to recommend to the NCI that governmental funding should be provided for a prospective and full clinical study on macrobiotics and cancer.[xxix]
• CDC Reviews 51 Macrobiotic Healing Cases
In a study sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Disease Prevention (CDC), the public health arm of the United States, cancer researchers at the School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, investigated the macrobiotic way of life from 2000-2002. In a report “Macrobiotics in the United States: An Assessment of Services and Activities,” Sheldon and Ginat Rice interviewed 124 practitioners in 44 locales. Fifty-one people recounted personal healing stories in which macrobiotic practice reversed a serious health condition. Of these, twenty-one were instances of cancer and four more were pre-cancerous cysts. The researchers posted a selection of recovery stories from cancer and other chronic diseases on the Internet along with a list of macrobiotic resources, including educational centers, teachers and counselors, and books and other study materials for the use of the general public.[xxx]
• M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Reviews Macrobiotics
Cancer researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston posted a historical overview of macrobiotics as a therapy for cancer patients and the general public on their web site in early 2003. “The macrobiotic diet is part of a way of life that attempts to achieve balance by applying the oriental principles of yin and yang to the selection of foods. According to one study, 63% of cancer patients who received some form of dietary therapy received or were exposed to the macrobiotic diet.”[xxxi]
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in American women, and about 1 in 8 will contract this disease. Many women have recovered following a macrobiotic approach, and medical studies found that the diet leads to improved processing of estrogen and other hormones and improved microflora in the gut:
• Macrobiotic Women Less Likely to Develop Breast Cancer
Macrobiotic and vegetarian women are less likely to develop breast cancer, researchers at New England Medical Center in Boston reported in 1981. The scientists found that macrobiotic and vegetarian women process estrogen differently from other women and eliminate it more quickly from their body. “The difference in estrogen metabolism may explain the lower incidence of breast cancer in vegetarian [macrobiotic] women,” the study published in concluded.[xxxii]
• Kombu Protects Against Breast Cancer
Jane Teas, Ph.D., a researcher at Harvard University, and her colleagues found that kombu, a thick green seaweed that is a part of the regular macrobiotic way of eating, protected against breast cancer in laboratory studies.[xxxiii] In another study, a Japanese researcher reported that rats fed sea vegetables had about half the induced breast cancer rate than controls.[xxxiv]
• Macrobiotic Diet Reduces Hormonal Levels in Italian Women
In a random case control study involving 104 middle-aged women at high risk for breast cancer, researchers at the National Tumor Institute in Milan, Italy, reported that a macrobiotic diet could substantially reduce hormonal levels associated with higher risk for this malignancy. The intervention group lost more weight, 4.06 kg compared to 0.54 kg, and underwent statistically significant improvements in the five major hormonal and metabolic values associated with breast cancer risk: sex hormone-binding globulin, testosterone, estradiol, fasting insulin, and fasting glycemia. Serum sex hormone-binding globulin levels increased 25.2%, while testosterone and estradiol decreased 19.5% and 18%.“We observed significant and favorable changes in hormonal indicators of breast cancer risk in a group of postmenopausal women living in northern Italy,” the researchers concluded. “These results suggest that the multifactorial dietary intervention applied in this study may prevent breast cancer if continued in the long term.” “Compared with the usual Western microflora, the gut of macrobiotic or vegetarian subjects may be richer in lactobacilli and bifidobacteria,” the scientists noted in an article in . The study led to a series of further studies on the effectiveness of the macrobiotic approach to this illness.[xxxv]
• Diet Lowers Risk of BRCA Breast Cancer
A plant-based diet lowers the risk of breast cancer for women who test positive for BRCA. In a review of the medical literature, Alex Jack found that a plant-based diet resulted in lower IGF-1 levels (reducing risk up to 7 times or 85%) among women testing positive for the BRCA gene mutation.[xxxvi] Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables reduced risk between 72 and 82%.[xxxvii] Lower weight brought the risk down between 80 and 90%. Breastfeeding reduced risk by 45% (BRCA1 type only).[xxxviii] He concluded that the well-publicized case of Angelina Jolie who had a double mastectomy was especially tragic because she had already altered her diet and breastfed her children, bringing her risk down to normal. Her doctors told her without surgery she had an 87% higher risk of breast or ovarian cancer. Neither Jolie nor her doctors appear to have known of these studies.
About 1-2% of women of Scandinavian, Icelandic, Dutch, and Ashkenazi Jewish heritage carry the BRCA mutation. Jack hypothesized that the BRCA, a normal DNA repair gene, mutated several centuries ago when dairy food consumption in these regions increased as society became more affluent. As macrobiotics has long contended, dairy food is a main cause of breast cancer. The Nurses’ Health Study II found premenopausal women who ate a lot of high-fat dairy products (like whole milk or butter) had an increased risk of breast cancer.[xxxix] Researchers in California reported breast cancer patients who eat a singe portion of cheese, yogurt, or ice cream daily could be 50% more likely to die. Scientists from the Kaiser Permanente research center in California looked at the records of 1,500 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1997 and 2000 and concluded that the hormone estrogen found in milk and other dairy products encourages tumor growth.[xl]
The BRCA genes are genes that repair chromosomal damage in DNA double-strand breaks. The more milk, cheese, and dairy consumed, the more genetic abnormalities arise, Jack theorized, causing the BRCA repair genes to work harder to repair them. Eventually they become impeded or worn out, mutated, and become ineffective. Scandinavians and the Dutch are well-known consumers of dairy food. In the case of those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, bagels and cream cheese, cheese blintzes, cheesecake, and cottage cheese, originated in Central and Eastern Europe and were Ashkenazi staples.
From an epigenetic perspective, it appears excessive milk, cheese, and other dairy intake caused hypermethylation or abnormal histone changes at the gene level that were passed along from mother to daughter. Today, BRCA mutations are found in tiny percentages in people of virtually all backgrounds and nationalities, including African-Americans, Native Americans, Pakistanis, and Japanese. By observing the modern food pattern, high in dairy and other cancer-promoting foods such as sugar, women around the world are developing similar epigenetic changes for the worse.[xli]
Along with lung cancer, colon cancer is the most deadly malignancy for both men and women. In addition to a balanced, plant-based diet, special remedies may be effective to help relieve this condition.
• Daikon a Potent Food for Colon Cancer
Daikon, the large white radish used in traditional Far Eastern cooking, has chemopreventive properties. In a study published in the , researchers reported that an extract of daikon inhibited three lines of human colon cancer cells. Daikon is used regularly in macrobiotic cooking. For many years, educator Michio Kushi has recommended a special Daikon Carrot Drink to help relieve colon cancer and other malignancies. Native to the East, daikon is now grown in North America, Europe, and throughout the world.[xlii]
Soy foods are high in isoflavones, naturally occurring compounds that protect from illness. Many medical studies have shown that a diet high in traditionally processed soy (as opposed to soy supplements, analogues, and GMO soy) reduce the risk for female disorders, including endometrial conditions, breast cancer, and reproductive disorders.
• Tofu and Legumes May Reduce Endometrial Cancer Risk
Phytochemicals in tofu, legumes, and other soy and legume products reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. University of Hawaii Cancer Center researchers observed 489 non-hysterectomized postmenopausal women with this malignancy over 13.6 years. Reduce endometrial cancer risk was associated with total isoflavone intake, and increasing intake of tofu or soy did not increase risk.[xliii]The macrobiotic way has also been helpful for women suffering from endometriosis.
Miso and other traditionally made soy foods may help prevent or relieve lung cancer.
• Miso Soup and Other Soy Foods Inhibit Lung Cancer
In Japan, soy is consumed in a wide variety of forms, such as miso soup and soy sauce. In a study to investigate the effect of genistein, an isoflavone found in soy, on osteosarcoma cells, Japanese researchers reported in 2012 that miso and other soy foods high in genistein inhibted cell proliferation, especially in the lungs. It decreased invasive and motile potential by inducing cell differentiation. “Genistein may be useful as an anti-metastatic drug for osteosarcoma,” the researchers concluded.[xliv]
Pancreatic cancer has the poorest prognosis of all major types of cancer. As the cases of Jean Kohler, Norman Arnold, and others noted above show, it has lent itself to macrobiotic recoveries. The following medical study was inspired by these successes:
• Pancreatic Patients Live Nearly 3 Times Longer
Researchers at Tulane University reported that the 1-year survival rate among patients with pancreatic cancer was significantly higher among those who adopted a macrobiotic 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. “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 scientists concluded in the .[xlv]
Prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer in American men. In addition to several well publicized accounts of personal recoveries, the macrobiotic approach
has been studied by several medical researchers:
Prostate Patients Live Nearly Twice as Long
Tulane University researchers found that patients with metastatic prostate cancer who followed a macrobiotic diet lived longer (177 months compared to 91 months) and enjoyed an improved quality of life than controls. The researchers concluded that the macrobiotic approach could 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 published in the concluded.[xlvi]
• PSA Levels Drop Significantly on a Macrobiotic Diet
At Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, researchers undertook two intervention studies of patients with recurrent prostate cancer. In a 6-month pilot clinical trial to investigate whether adoption of a modified macrobiotic diet high in whole grains, fresh vegetables, and other plant foods, reinforced by stress management training, could attenuate the rate of further rise of PSA [prostate-specific antigen, a risk factor], 14 patients with recurrent prostate cancer experienced a significant decrease in the rate of PSA rise. Four of 10 evaluable patients experienced an absolute reduction in their PSA levels, nine of ten had a reduction in their rates of PSA rise and improvement of their PSA doubling times. Mean PSA doubling time increased from 11.9 months to 112.3 months. “These results provide preliminary evidence that adoption of a plant-based [macrobiotic] diet, in combination with stress reduction, may attenuate disease progression and have therapeutic potential for clinical management of recurrent prostate cancer,” the researchers reported in in 2006.[xlvii]
Stomach tumors are linked to eating salted meats, white rice, and other foods in the modern Asian diet where this cancer is widespread.
• Miso Protects Against Stomach Cancer and Heart Disease
Japan’s National Cancer Center reported that people who eat miso soup daily are 33 percent less likely to contract stomach cancer and have 19 percent less 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, 3.5 times more deaths resulting from high blood pressure, and higher mortality from all other causes.[xlviii]
• Shiitake Have Strong Anti-Tumor Effect
Japanese 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 toxicity.”[xlix]
General Medical Opinion
As a result of the above studies on the macrobiotic approach to cancer, major medical organizations have generally supported its potential to help prevent and, in some cases, relieve cancer:
• American Cancer Society Lists Benefits of Macrobiotics
In a statement on alternative therapies in 1996, the American Cancer Society observed, “Today’s most popular anticancer diet is probably macrobiotics.” While no diet has yet been shown to be able to reverse existing tumors, the ACS went on: “Like other fat-reducing diets, macrobiotics may help prevent some cancers. It may reduce the risk of developing cancers that appear related to higher fat intake, such as colon cancer and possibly some breast cancers. The macrobiotic diet, like other fat-free diets, can lower blood pressure and perhaps reduce the chance of heart disease. Taking part in a macrobiotics program may provide some sense of balance with nature and harmony with the total universe and as such promote a sense of calmness and reduced stress.”
• ACS Says Macrobiotics Assists Conventional Treatment
In advice to cancer survivors, the American Cancer Society further declared in 2003 that the macrobiotic way of eating could be beneficial. “The macrobiotic diet and lifestyle is not primarily aimed at cancer survivors, yet many persons first encounter this diet in the context of cancer. This diet is based on whole grains, vegetables, sea vegetables, beans, fermented soy products, fruit, nuts, seeds, soups, small amounts of fish, and teas. Individualized diets are based on whether a cancer is classified yin or yang. Macrobiotic diets may be used as an adjuvant to conventional treatment to ensure nutritional variety and adequacy.”[li]
• ACS Recommends a Plant-Based Diet
The American Cancer Society’s stated that one-third of malignancies were due to diet and physical activity habits. Among its key recommendations were “Consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods,” “Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products,” “Limit consumption of processed meat and red meat.”[lii]
• Macrobiotic Diet Improves Drug Metabolism
In a review of complementary and alternative therapies for cancer in , a researcher reported that a macrobiotic diet may positively alter drug metabolism and that in well-nourished patients who do not have breast or endometrial cancer, “a macrobiotic diet can be accepted by the physician as an adjunct of conventional treatment.”[liii]
As these studies indicate, macrobiotics opened the way for research on the dietary approach to cancer. Michio Kushi met with Dr. Mark Hegsted, a nutritionalist from Harvard, and others who influenced Dietary Goals for the U.S., the historic 1977 Senate report linking the modern way of eating with heart disease, cancer, and other leading causes of death and led to the first national and international dietary guidelines for cancer. In the years that followed, macrobiotics became the
most popular dietary treatment for those with this disease. Every year, these recommendations move closer to the macrobiotic approach. For example, the American Cancer Society dietary guidelines for cancer emphasizing a plant-based approach noted above were composed in 2012 by a committee chaired by Lawrence H. Kushi, ScD, an epidemiologist and breast cancer researcher, son of Michio and Aveline Kushi, and lifelong practitioner of macrobiotics.[liv]
[i] Book of Daniel 1: 8–17. Douay-Rheims American Edition, 1899.
[ii] Kushi and Jack, Macrobiotic Path, p. 5
[iii] Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, U.S. Senate (1977). Dietary Goals for the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office.
[iv] Bergan, J. G.; Brown, P. T. “Nutritional Status of ‘New’ Vegetarians,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 76:151-55, 1980.
[v] Hinds, Alison, BSc. “A Short Study of the Macrobiotic Diet.” Queen Elizabeth College, University of London, 1985.
[vi] Campbell, Ph.D., T. Colin Campbell; Campbell II, Thomas M. (2004, revised 2017), The China Study. Benbella Books.
[vii] Harmon, Brook E. et al. (2015). “Nutrient Composition and Anti-inflammatory Potential of a Prescribed Macrobiotic Diet,” Nutrition and Cancer, DOI: 10.1080/01635581.2015. 1055369
[viii] Smith, Michael, M.D. (2017). “Macrobiotic Diet,” Web MD, www.webmd.com. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
[ix] Sacks, F. M.; Rosner, Bernard; Kass, Edward H. “Blood Pressure in Vegetarians,” American Journal of Epidemiology 100:390-98, 1974.
[x] Sacks, F. M. et al. “Plasma Lipids and Lipoproteins in Vegetarians and Controls,” New England Journal of Medicine 292:1148-51, 1975.
[xi] Healthy People: The Surgeon General’s Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Government Printing Office, 1979.
[xii] Sacks, F. M. et al. “Effects of Ingestion of Meat on Plasma Cholesterol of Vegetarians,” Journal of the American Medical Association 246:640-44, 1981.
[xiii] Castelli, William P. “Summary of Lessons from the Framingham Heart Study,” Framingham, Mass., September, 1983.
[xiv] Kushi, Michio; Jack, Alex (1985). Diet for a Strong Heart. St. Martin’s Press, p. 131. ISBN 978-0312304584
[xv] Kohler, Jean; Kohler, Marie Ann (1979). Healing Miracles from Macrobiotics. Parker Publishing.
[xvi] Jack and Kushi, Cancer Prevention Diet, pp. 403–404.
[xvii] Dobic, Milenka (2000). My Beautiful Life. Avery Publishing. ISBN 978-1899171132.
[xviii] Benedict, Dirk (1991). Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy. Avery. ISBN 978-0895294791
[xix] Nussbaum, Elaine (1992). Recovery: From Cancer to Health Through Macrobiotics. Japan Publications. ISBN 978-0870406430.
[xx] Kushi and Jack, The Cancer Prevention Diet, pp. 430–431. St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 9780312561062.
[xxi] One Peaceful World Journal, #6 August 1990.
[xxii] Satillaro, Anthony J., M.D.; Monte, Tom (1982). Recalled by Life: The Story of My Recovery from Cancer, Houghton-Mifflin, 1982.
[xxiii] Kushi and Jack, Cancer-Prevention Diet, p. 351.
[xxiv] Brown, Virginia, R.N.; Stayman, Susan (1982). Macrobiotic Miracle: How a Vermont Family Overcame Cancer. Japan Publications. ISBN 978-0870405730.
[xxv] The East West Foundation and Ann Fawcett (1992). Cancer-Free: 30 Who Triumphed Over Cancer Naturally. Japan Publications. ISBN 978-0870407949.
[xxvi] Kushi and Jack, Cancer-Prevention Diet, pp. 313–314. One Peaceful World Journal #5, Spring, 1991.
[xxvii] Geismar, Erin, “Montauk Man Still Cancer-Free After 6 Years,” East Hampton Press, March 2, 2010.
[xxviii] NIH Best Cases Study. University of South Carolina, Prevention Research Center, 2002.
[xxix] Minutes of the Fifth Meeting, Cancer Advisory Panel for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAPCAM), Bethesda, Maryland, February 25, 2002; Ralph Moss, Ph.D., “The Olive Branch Bears Fruit,” The Moss Reports, February 27, 2002. www.cancerdecisions. com/022702.html
[xxx] Macrobiotic Research Project,” Jane Teas, Ph.D., principal investigator; Joan Cunningham, Ph.D., co-principal investigator, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control, October 2000 to September 2002, University of South Carolina, Prevention Research Center, School of Public Health, Charleston, S.C.
[xxxi] “Nutrition and Special Diet: Macrobiotics,” M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Texas, ments/cime, 2003-2006.
[xxxii] B. R. Goldin et al. “Effect of Diet on Excretion of Estrogens in Pre- and Postmenopausal Incidence of Breast Cancer in Vegetarian Women,” Cancer Research 41:3771-73, 1981.
[xxxiii] Teas, J; Harbison, M. L.; Gelman, R.S. (1984). “Dietary Seaweed [Laminaria] and Mammary Carcinogenesis in Rats, Cancer Research 44:2758-61.
[xxxiv] Yamamoto; Ichiro; et al. (1987). “The Effect of Dietary Seaweeds on 7,12-Dimethyl-Benz[a]Anthracene-Induced Mammary Tumorigenesis in Rats,” Cancer Letters 35:109–18.
[xxxv] Berrino, Franco et al. “Reducing Bioavailable Sex Hormones through a Comprehensive Change in Diet: the Diet and Androgens (DIANA) Randomized Trial,” Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention 10: 25-33, January 2001. Allen, N.E. et al. “The associations of diet with serum insulin-like growth factor I and its main binding proteins in 292 women meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002;11(11):1441-1448. Nkondjock, A. et al. “Diet Quality and BRCA-associated breast cancer risk,” Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2007 Jul;103(3):361-9. 84 Nkondjock A. et al., “Diet, lifestyle and BRCA-related breast cancer risk among French-Canadians,” Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2006 Aug;98(3):285-94. Ghadirian P., et al., “Breast cancer risk in relation to the joint effect of BRCA mutations and diet diversity,” Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Sep;117(2):417-22.
[xxxviii]Jernstrom, H. et al., “Breast-feeding and the risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers,” Journal National Cancer Institute, 2004;96(14):1094-1098. Cho E, Spiegelman D, Hunter DJ, et al. Premenopausal fat intake and risk of breast cancer. 95:1079-85, 2003. “High-Fat Dairy Products Linked to Poorer Breast Cancer Survival,” Kaiser Permanente, Press Release, March 14, 2013.
[xli] Jack, Alex et al. (2013). Nutrition vs. Surgery: The Breast Cancer Controversy, p. 3–10. Amberwaves Press.
[xlii] Barillari, J. et al. “Kaiware Daikon (Raphanus sativus L.) extract: a naturally multipotent chemopreventive agent,” J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Sep 10;56(17):7823-30.
[xliii] Ollberding, N.J. et al. “Legume, soy, tofu, and isoflavone intake and endometrial cancer risk in postmenopausal women in the multiethnic cohort study,” J Natl Cancer Inst 2012 Jan4:104(1):67-76.
[xliv] A. Nakamura et al. “Genistein inhibits cell invasion and motility by inducing cell differentiation in murine osteosarcoma cell line LM8, BMC Cell Biol. 2012 Sep 26;13:24.
[xlv] Carter, James P. 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.
[xlvii] Saxe, G.A. et al. “Potential Attenuation of Disease Progression in Recurrent Prostate Cancer with Plant-Based Diet and Stress Reduction,” Integr Cancer Ther 5(3)206-13, 2006.
[xlviii] Hirayama, T. “Relationship of Soybean Paste Soup Intake to Gastric Cancer Risk,” Nutrition and Cancer 3: 223–33.
[xlix] Chihara, G. 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.
[l] “Complementary and Alternative Therapies, American Cancer Society Internet Site, 1997; “Alternative and Complementary Therapies,” Cancer 77(6), 1996.
[li] “Guide for Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Survivors,” CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Sept-Oct. 2003.
[lii] American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention (2012), Lawrence H. Kushi ScD. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians Volume 62, Issue 1
January/February 2012. Pages 30–67.
[liii] Sadovsky, Richard. “Complementary and Alternative Medical Therapies for Cancer,” American Family Physician, May 1, 2003.
[liv] American Cancer Society (2012), op cit.
[lv] “Patients with Kaposi Sarcoma Who Opt for No Treatment,” Letter. Lancet, July 1985.
[lvi] Kushi, Michio; Jack (1995). AIDS and Beyond: Dietary and Lifestyle Guidelnes for New Viral and Bacterial Disease. One Peaceful World Press. (1997) Humanity at the Crossroads. One Peaceful Word Press. (2003) Macrobiotic Path to Total Health.
[lvii] “Umeboshi Have H1N1 Suppressant,” Japan Times, June 3, 2010.
[lviii] Hafstraim, I. et al. “A Vegan Diet Free of Gluten Improves the Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis,” Rheumatology 40(10):1175-79, 2001.
[lix] McDougall, John. “Diet: The Only Real Hope for Arthritis,” The McDougall Newsletter, May/June, 1998.
[lx] Childers, N. F.; Margoles, M. S. “An Apparent Relation of Nightshades (Solanaceae) to Arthritis,” Journal of Neurological and Orthopedic Medical Surgery 12:227-231, 1993.