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Macrobiotics and Cancer Prevention and Therapy Danielle Ramey 03-21-08 Advisor: Dr. Boissnneault
What is the Macrobiotic Diet • “Long Life” • A vegetarian diet that emphasizes a philosophy of science and medicine and in large part an eating pattern. • Macrobiotics is not exclusively a diet; it is described as a way of life with which humanity can maintain health, freedom, and happiness.
Case Studies • Numerous case studies about the cure of cancer as the only treatment using this diet gave a lot attention to it. • Many reports of the “macrobiotic cure.” Several complete books written on recovery including a nurse with malignant melanoma, a physician with pancreatic cancer, and carcinosarcoma of the uterus with multiple metastases. • Little research completed on the direct correlation between the diet and its effects to prevent or cure cancer. This could be that the macrobiotic diet is a CAM therapy and is based on a holistic approach to medicine. It is hard to research a holistic mind, body and spirit approach to medicine using only current science.
Basics of Diet • A vegetarian diet with emphasis on whole grains, vegetables, and bean and soy products. The diet suggests fish and seafood as well as fruits on a weekly basis. • The macrobiotic diet is therefore low fat, high fiber, and rich in phytoestrogens. • Incorporates organically grown and minimally processed foods that coordinate with season, tradition, and climate.
The Link to Cancer • High in phytoestrogens and therefore may help to balance female hormones. May improve symptoms associated with menopause, premenstrual syndrome, and may offer protection against breast cancer and endometrial cancer. • Mechanism is based on unopposed estrogen increasing the mitotic activity of endometrial cells and predisposing them to cancer. Phytoestrogens have weak estrogenic effects and bind to estrogen receptors, partially blocking their activity. They also increase SHBG which produces a reduced amount of free and unbound estrogen. • Therefore, phytoestrogens found in excess in the diet help prevent the growth and proliferation of estrogen dependent cancerous cells.
The Link to Cancer • Flavonols are a class of flavonoids, which are ubiquitous in plant foods. • Onions, kale, leaks, broccoli, and apples. • Researched for their anticarcinogenic effect in many types of cancer and are proven to be a factor in the reduced risk of carcinoma. • The mechanism is believed to be its effects on the cell cycle and reduction in oxidative stress.
The Link to Cancer • Since the macrobiotic diet is low fat and low calorie it perpetuates a high metabolism. Comparing a typical American diet and the macrobiotic diet, it is evident that the macrobiotic diet has a lower incidence of obesity. • Overweight and obesity have been linked to an increase in certain types of cancer. • If macrobiotic followers have a lower chance of obesity, it can be inferred that they are reducing their chances of those types of cancer.
The Link to Cancer • The typical American consumes a lot of meat. On average, adults consume 150% of the RDA for protein. With the exception of fish, meats and dairy are not highly recommended, and consumed in small quantities in the macrobiotic diet. • Recent research suggests that red meat in particular may have a positive relationship with certain types of cancer.
Other Benefits of the Diet • Many studies and proponents of the diet also claim other benefits aside from prevention and treatment of cancer. • Lower risk of developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and lowers incidence of heart attack and stroke. • Improvement in digestive diseases (such as ulcers and Crohns), improvement in memory, and loss of excess body fat.
Downfalls of Diet • Protein??? If consuming adequate beans, nuts, and soy protein and omega 3 fatty acids, all dietary recommendations should be met. • Caloric intake is somewhat low. This may be a problem in cancer patients who are having trouble consuming food or even keeping it down. • Diet may not be recommended when there is a need to make new tissue or establish a high metabolism such as post surgery. • Expensive • Time consuming • Children, adolescents, elderly, pregnant, and lactating women should consult physician before beginning diet.
Conclusion • There are many positive associations including anticarcinogenic effects of phytoestrogens, vegetables, fish, soy, decreased red meat intake, and decreased obesity. There are also the loads of self-reported cures from terminal cancer due to the diet. The diet seems to be a legitimate option for those who are prepared with the resources to follow it. It also seems like an adequate preventative measure for cancer as well other diseases including heart disease, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension. • Management of cancer should be dependent on proven therapies including chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, macrobiotics could definitely be an option when these treatments fail, or even as an adjunct. • It has many benefits, and is healthier when compared to the typical American diet. It goes without saying that more research needs to be completed on the efficacy of the macrobiotic diet in treatment of cancer.
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