Caution: Some complementary agents or therapies may be useful for cancer patients; however, some may be harmful in certain situations. MD Anderson Cancer Center cautions patients to consult with their oncologist before attempting to use any agents or therapies referenced on these pages. Inclusion of an agent, therapy or resource on this CIMER Web site does not imply endorsement by MD Anderson Cancer Center.
- Review is based upon articles published as of 1/31/2006
- Information on the scientific basis of macrobiotic therapy is provided in the Detailed Scientific Review
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. Grains and vegetables are viewed as the ideal center of a diet that also includes beans, fish, fowl, fruits, seeds, nuts and condiments. While no foods are actually forbidden, some may be limited in a therapeutic context.
Amounts of different foods may be adjusted according to varying states of health, weather and physical activity.
How it is taken
Most foods including fruits are cooked.
Side effects may occur that vary with the individual and length of time practiced.
An older form of the diet that was progressively limited to grains alone is no longer practiced because of severe deficiency states and even death. More recent and less stringent diets may be nutritionally adequate if carefully formulated for some people.
Adverse effects consisting of deficiencies in protein, vitamins D and B12, iron and calcium have been reported in vegetarian diets especially for children and pregnant or lactating women. Patients with cancer who have cachexis (extreme weight loss) may have additional risks.
To avoid potential interactions, be sure to let your health care provider know if you use this or any other type of complementary therapy.
Macrobiotics has also been reviewed by the MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Clinical Nutrition.
Authors and Editors
Nancy C. Russell, Dr.P.H., senior health education specialist, Integrative Medicine Program Education Component
Reviewers and editors:
Lawrence H. Kushi, Sc.D., associate director, Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente
Stephen P. Tomasovic, Ph.D., senior vice president for academic affairs