Research abstracts: Hard facts on how foods can destroy cancer

Dr. Jane Teas, below, continues to study the effects of seaweed & macrobiotics on cancer prevention and recovery. She & her husband, Dr. James Hebert, as well as several other prominent research scientists operate out of the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina (USC).

"Dietary Seaweed Modifies Estrogen and Phytoestrogen Metabolism in Healthy Postmenopausal Women"

By Jane Teas,3* Thomas G. Hurley,3–5 James R. Hebert,3–5 Adrian A. Franke,6 Daniel W. Sepkovic,7,8 and Mindy S. Kurzer9

3University of South Carolina Cancer Center, Columbia, SC 29208; 4South Carolina Statewide Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Columbia, SC 29208; 5Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Arnold School of Public Health, 6Cancer Research Center of Hawai’i, University of Hawai’i, Honolulu, HI 96813; 7Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, NJ 07601; 8Department of Medicine, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry, Newark, NJ 07601; and 9Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108

From The Journal of Nutrition. First published ahead of print March 25, 2009 as doi: 10.3945/jn.108.100834.
Study supported by the Susan G. Komen Foundation (grant 9735) and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

Seaweed and soy foods are consumed daily in Japan, where breast cancer rates for postmenopausal women are significantly lower than in the West. Likely mechanisms include differences in diet, especially soy consumption, and estrogen metabolism. Fifteen healthy postmenopausal women participated in this double-blind trial of seaweed supplementation with soy challenge. Participants were randomized to 7 wk of either 5 g/d seaweed (Alaria) or placebo (maltodextrin). During wk 7, participants also consumed a daily soy protein isolate (2 mg isoflavones/kg body weight). After a 3-wk washout period, participants were crossed over to the alternate supplement schedule. There was an inverse correlation between seaweed dose (mg/kg body weight) and serum estradiol (E2) (seaweed-placebo = y = 0.28 x dose - 42.8; r = 0.70; P = 0.003), which was linear across the range of weights. Soy supplementation increased urinary daidzein, glycitein, genistein, and O-desmethylangolensin (P = 0.0001) and decreased matairesinol and enterolactone (P < 0.05). Soy and seaweed plus soy (SeaSoy) increased urinary excretion of 2-hydroxyestrogen (2-OHE) (P = 0.0001) and the ratio of 2-OHE:16a-hydroxyestrone (16aOHE1) (P = 0.01). For the 5 equol excretors, soy increased urinary equol excretion (P = 0.0001); the combination of SeaSoy further increased equol excretion by 58% (P = 0.0001). Equol producers also had a 315% increase in 2:16 ratio (P = 0.001) with SeaSoy. Seaweed favorably alters estrogen and phytoestrogen metabolism and these changes likely include modulation of colonic bacteria. J. Nutr. 139: 1–6, 2009.

1 Supported by the Susan G. Komen Foundation (grant 9735) and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command under DAMD 17-98-1-8207.
2 Author disclosures: J. Teas, T. G. Hurley, J. R. Hebert, A. A. Franke, and D. W. Sepkovic, no conflicts of interest; M. S. Kurzer occasionally consults for Solae Company, LLC.
* To whom correspondence should be addressed: E-mail:

THE JOURNAL OF UROLOGY® Vol. 166, 2202–2207, December 2001
Copyright © 2001 by AMERICAN UROLOGICAL ASSOCIATION, INC.® Printed in U.S.A.



From the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, California, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Nutrition Research Center, Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, and Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School and Department of Surgery, Division of Urology, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts

Purpose: Epidemiological and laboratory evidence indicates that a Western diet is associated with an increased incidence of prostate cancer. Specific components of the diet, such as high saturated fat, low fiber and high meat content, may have greatest clinical significance in the later stages of tumor promotion and progression. However, departure from the conventional diet is difficult to initiate and maintain. Therefore, we combined the well-known Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program with a low saturated fat, high-fiber, plant-based diet to determine the effect on the rate of change in prostate specific antigen (PSA) in patients with biochemical recurrence after prostatectomy.

Materials and Methods: We enrolled 10 men and their partners in a 4-month group-based diet and MBSR intervention. A pre-study post-study design in which each subject served as his own control was used to compare the rate of increase in and doubling time of PSA before and after intervention.

Results: The rate of PSA increase decreased in 8 of 10 men, while 3 had a decrease in absolute
PSA. Results of the signed rank test indicated a significant decrease in the rate of increase in the intervention period (p = 0.01). Estimated median doubling time increased from 6.5 months (95% confidence interval 3.7 to 10.1) before to 17.7 months (95% confidence interval 7.8 to infinity) after the intervention.

Conclusions: Our small study provides evidence that a plant-based diet delivered in the context
of MBSR decreases the rate of PSA increase and may slow the rate of tumor progression in cases
of biochemically recurrent prostate cancer. Larger-scale randomized studies are warranted to
explore further the preventive and therapeutic potential of diet and lifestyle modification in men
with prostate cancer.

KEY WORDS: prostate, prostatic neoplasms, prostate-specific antigen, diet, disease progression
Accepted for publication July 27, 2001.

* Recipient of a grant from the University of Massachusetts Cancer Center Our Danny Cancer Fund and Cooperative Agreement U48/CCU409664 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Dr. Jane Teas, P.I.).
† Requests for reprints: Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Norman J Arnold School of Public Health, University of South
Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208.

American Institute for Cancer Research 11th Annual Research Conference on Diet, Nutrition and Cancer: The Macrobiotic Diet in Cancer 1,2

Lawrence H. Kushi,*†3 Joan E. Cunningham,** James R. Hebert,** Robert H. Lerman,‡ Elisa V. Bandera†† and Jane Teas‡‡

*Program in Nutrition, Department of Health & Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY; †Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, NY; **Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC; ‡The Institute for Functional Medicine and Functional Medicine Research Center, Metagenics, Inc., Gig Harbor, WA; ††Department of Nutritional Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; and ‡‡Department of Health Promotion, Research and Education, Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Macrobiotics is one of the most popular alternative or complementary comprehensive lifestyle approaches to cancer. The centerpiece of macrobiotics is a predominantly vegetarian, whole-foods diet that has gained popularity because of remarkable case reports of individuals who attributed recoveries from cancers with poor prognoses to macrobiotics and the substantial evidence that the many dietary factors recommended by macrobiotics are associated with decreased cancer risk. Women consuming macrobiotic diets have modestly lower circulating estrogen levels, suggesting a lower risk of breast cancer. This may be due in part to the high phytoestrogen content of the macrobiotic diet. As with most aspects of diet in cancer therapy, there has been limited research evaluating the effectiveness of the macrobiotic diet in alleviating suffering or prolonging survival of cancer patients. The few studies have compared the experience of cancer patients who tried macrobiotics with expected survival rates or assembled series of cases that may justify more rigorous research. On the basis of available evidence and its similarity to dietary recommendations for chronic disease prevention, the macrobiotic diet probably carries a reduced cancer risk. However, at present, the empirical scientific basis for or against recommendations for use of macrobiotics for cancer therapy is limited. Any such recommendations are likely to reflect biases of the recommender. Because of its popularity and the compelling evidence that dietary factors are important in cancer etiology and survival, further research to clarify whether the macrobiotic diet or similar dietary patterns are effective in cancer prevention and treatment is warranted.

KEY WORDS: macrobiotic diet, neoplasms, vegetarianism, life change events, yin-yang, epidemiology

J. Nutr. 131: 3056S–3064S, 2001.
1 Presented as part of the 11th Annual Research Conference on Diet, Nutrition and Cancer held in Washington, DC, July 16–17, 2001. This conference was sponsored by the American Institute for Cancer Research and was supported by the California Dried Plum Board, The Campbell Soup Company, General Mills, Lipton, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Roche Vitamins Inc. and Vitasoy USA. Guest editors for this symposium publication were Ritva R. Butrum and Helen A. Norman, American Institute for Cancer Research, Washington, DC.
2 Supported in part by grants RR09472 and AT00090 from the National Institutes of Health and cooperative agreement U48/CCU409664 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The contents of this paper are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3 To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:

More medical research on using food remedies in cancer treatment programs: