Anti-cancer Diets You May Have Heard About such as the Macrobiotic Diet for Cancer

About "Anti-Cancer" Diets

Note:  This section, "anti-cancer" diets, is for informational purposes only.  The authors of do not endorse these diets and recommend that you discuss any diet change, whether related to cancer or not, with your doctor.

  • There is no special "anti-cancer" diet.
  • There are many special diet regimes promoted to fight or treat cancer, including programs such as Macrobiotics, Gerson Therapy, Livingston-Wheeler Regimen, Kelley-Gonzalez Regimen, and Wheat Grass Therapy.
  • These diets may propose health benefits in treating cancer, but can pose a risk for inadequate nutrition or malnutrition in varying degrees, drug/nutrient interactions, increased fatigue, and alterations in laboratory parameters.
  • It is advised that you discuss any special diet regimen with your physician and/or dietitian.
  • These diets have not been proven to have anti-cancer effects.
  • Here is an overview of their philosophy, diet principles, and areas for concern or caution.


Philosophy - The macrobiotic diet for cancer incorporates the ancient Oriental concept or theory of yin and yang, and is based on a prescription for health and balanced living.  Macrobiotics has now evolved to include recommendations for cancer prevention and treatment.  A macrobiotic practitioner first classifies the patient's cancer diagnosis as primarily yin or yang or a combination of the two.

Regimen/Diet Principles - Once the patient's diagnosis has been classified, a very restrictive macrobiotic diet for cancer is recommended to correct the imbalances.  Excess consumption of fatty and cold/icy foods is discouraged, because it is thought to accumulate damaging toxins in the body.  Milk, milk products, eggs, and processed foods are also discouraged, because one of the diet principles is to primarily consume organically grown foods native to their climate and area.  The standard macrobiotic diet eliminates the use of animal products except for a small amount of white fish. 

Macrobiotic Diet Philosophy
Classification Characteristics Foods
Yin Dark, passive, feminine, cold and negative Fruit, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, tofu and tempeh, fruit and vegetable juices, jams made without refined sugar, and barley malt
Yang Light, active, male, warm and positive Whole grain cereals, root vegetables (e.g. potatoes, parships), fish and shellfish, cottage cheese, beans, and peas, lentils, salt and miso

Areas for concern - This macrobiotic diet for cancer poses a potential risk for protein malnutrition and weight loss, also a risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to diet restrictions.

If you are following this diet, the laboratory parameters that require monitoring include albumin, transferrin, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and ascorbic acid levels.

Gerson Therapy

Philosophy - Gerson therapy is based on a belief that nutritional programs are derived from the evolutionary past, and that food has become less nutritious over time.  Gerson advocated that the balance of sodium and potassium at a cellular level supports the regression of cancer and that, by returning to a basic diet, diseases like cancer could be overcome.

Regimen/Diet principles - Gerson therapy includes sodium restriction and potassium supplementation, thyroid extracts, pancreatic enzymes, hourly consumption or organic raw fruit and vegetable juices, fat and protein restriction through a vegetarian diet, and desiccated liver tablets (this replaced raw calf liver juice).  Coffee enemas are used to stimulate the bowel to assist in detoxification.

Areas for concern in Gerson therapy - There is a risk for dehydration and loss of micronutrients from daily enemas.  Protein malnutrition is a risk and may result in calorie, protein, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies.  Flu-like symptoms have be reported about 7-10 days after initiating the diet; symptoms include fever, nausea, weakness, dizziness or vertigo, and headache.

If you are following this therapy regimen, the laboratory parameters that require monitoring include albumin, transferrin, vitamin B12, blood urea nitrogen, and folic acid levels.

Livingston-Wheeler Regimen

Philosophy - The Livingston-Wheeler regimen proposes that a bacteria called Progenitor cryptocides is responsible for cancer and that this organism became destructive in the body when the immune system is weakened.  The proposed primary goal is to restore the body's natural defenses by strengthening the immune system.

Regimen/Diet principles - Livingston-Wheeler regimen includes a modified Gerson therapy vegetarian diet, relaxation therapy, psychological intervention, imagery, vaccines made from the patient's urine or blood, antibiotics, antiparasite medicine, IV doses of vitamins, and other dietary supplements and oral digestive enzymes.  The diet is heavily based on vegetarian raw foods and the avoidance of coffee, alcohol, refined sugars, flour, and all processed foods.  Coffee enemas may be used as needed for detoxification.  Smoked meats and poultry are forbidden.  As recovery occurs, fish is allowed.

Areas for concern in Livingston-Wheeler regimen - Possible reactions to vaccines, reported to include aching, slight fever, and tenderness at the injection site.  The regimen also poses a possible risk for calorie, protein, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies.  There is also a risk for sepsis (life-threatening blood infection) and anaphylaxis (serious allergic reaction).

If you are following this regimen, the laboratory parameters that require monitoring include albumin, transferrin, vitamin B12, blood urea, nitrogen, and folic acid levels.

Kelley/Gonzalez Regimen

Philosophy - Humans are divided into three metabolic types:

  • Sympathetic dominants, which reside in warm climates and require plant-based diets.
  • Parasympathetic dominants, who reside in cold climates and require meat-based diets.
  • Balanced types who reside in moderate climates and require mixed diets.

The regimen combines nutrition, detoxification, and supplements of pancreatic enzymes.

Regimen/Diet principles - This regimen is tailored to the patient's specific metabolic type and reportedly includes 130-160 supplements every day, consisting of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, and glandular concentrates from animals.  Detoxification is accomplished through colonics, fasting, diuretics, nasal irrigations, deep breathing, and sitz baths.  Patients are placed on a strict diet that includes large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetable juices, and cereals.

Area for concern - This regimen may pose a risk for calorie and protein deficiencies.  Colonics (enemas) and diuretics may cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, and possibly colitis (inflammation of the bowel).  It is important to be aware of the potential for a drug-nutrient interaction due to the 130-160 supplements daily.

If you are following this regimen, the laboratory parameters that should be monitored include albumin, transferrin, glucose, hematocrit, hemoglobin, folate, B12, and lipase levels.

Wheat Grass Therapy

Philosophy - Wheat grass is believed to provide substances that will support the body's attempts to rebuild, detoxify, and enhance the function of the immune system.  Wheat grass therefore is believed to contain anti-cancer substances.

Regimen/Diet principles - This regimen includes a three-day, juice-cleansing fast, along with enemas, which precede therapy, to help detoxify the body.  The wheat grass diet excludes all meat, dairy products, and cooked foods ad stresses foods such as uncooked sprouts, raw vegetables and fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Supplements are not considered necessary with this therapy.

Areas for concern - Analysis of this dietary regimen highlights its lack of vitamins and other essential nutrients.   A B12 deficiency could result from the lack of this vitamin in the diet.  The use of enemas increases the risk for infection and perforation of the bowel.

If you are following this therapy regimen, the laboratory parameters that should be monitored include albumin, transferrin, magnesium, vitamin B12, and phosphorus levels.

It's important to be well informed about any special diet regimen, and discuss the program with your doctor, nurse, or dietitian prior to initiating the program.  These diets propose many health benefits related to fighting cancer, but they can pose a risk for inadequate nutrition to varying degrees, including drug/nutrient interactions, increased fatigue, and alterations in laboratory parameters.  Be sure to discuss these diet protocols with your health care professional first.

As stated previously, we strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments, as well as any anti-cancer diets you are considering, such as the macrobiotic diet, Gerson therapy, Livingston-Wheeler regimen, and so on. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.

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