Cancer Diet

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Phantastic claims without reference on front page of German Bild-Zeitung[1]

A cancer diet is a way of alimentation or diet intended to heal or cure a cancer disease in a causal way or to prolong survival time. A wider understanding of the term "cancer diet" also includes a diet intended to improve the quality of life of cancer patients without affecting prognosis.

So far, specific cancer diets are not accepted in scientific medicine, but are common in an environment of alternative medicine. However, most cancer patients also choose concomitant alternative therapies to an effective therapy in a complementary way.

Specific cancer diets are nutritional recommendations going beyond generic recommendations and usually include unusual components, for instance the consumption of herbal substances, or prohibit a particular way of alimentation or particular substances. The recommendations found (in books or the internet) as a rule are backed only by theoretical considerations and usually lack any scientific proof or literature.

In general, almost every cancer diet is claimed to be effective in a preventive way and, at the same time, also in a curative way. Cancer prevention and cure are often confused or mixed. However, a common cancer patient is much less interested in prevention of a possible future (different) cancer disease, but seeks healing or relief of his present state. Most cancer patients are aware that chemotherapy or radiation therapy may trigger a future cancer.

Common Cancer Diet Models

Common explanations for cancer diets are:

  • an alleged detoxification of usually not specified "toxins" or "waste"
  • strengthening of the immune system
  • famishing of cancer cells (see Breuß cure) or selective intoxication of cancer cells
  • recommendations in accordance with the Warburg effect of energy metabolism (examples: Budwig diet or Coy diet)

Known Cancer Diets

  • anthroposophic cancer diet according to Renzenbrink. A "whole foods" alimentation, without food originating from solanaceae (tomatoes, potatoes). Developed by German physician Udo Renzenbrink (1913-1994)
  • Breuß cure: only vegetable juices (carrot, celery, potatoes, radishes) and particular teas for six weeks. Developed by Austrian farmer and "Heilpraktiker" (naturopath) Rudolf Breuß (1899-1990)
  • Gerson diet: coffee enemas, laxatives, liver-extracts, iodine, vitamins and pepsine. Some proteins, sugar, and salt.
  • Howard Hay diet: proteins and carbohydrates well separated.
  • Instinctotherapy according to Guy Claude Burger: no cooked or heated food, but raw meat and fish is permitted.
  • Isopathic lactic acid diet or protective diet according to Johannes Kuhl: optically (+) lactic acid.
  • Cancer diet according to Ernst Leupold: extreme carbohydrate-deficient diet, infusions with sugar and insuline. No fruit (except for lemons).
  • [[Macrobiotics|Macrobiotic diet according to Kushi-Ohsawa and his followers: mostly grains.
  • Moerman diet according to Cornelius Moerman: "whole food" and iodine, citric acid, yeast, wheat, sulfur, and vitamins.
  • Oil-protein diet according to Johanna Budwig: flax seed oils and nut oils, cabbage juice (Sauerkrautsaft), vegetable and fruit juices.
  • Cancer diet according to Catherine Kousmine: grains and raw food, no meat.
  • Hirneise 3E-program: developed by former nurse Lothar Hirneise.
  • Whole Food diet according to Maximilian Bircher-Benner: Little fat, vegetables and grain in large quantities, milk products, fruit, fish instead of meat.
  • Kelley Gonzalez therapy.
  • Seeger 10 way therapy.
  • Coy diet


These various cancer diets are very different from each other and contradictory. Alleged preventive effects are often mixed with a possible curative approach.

No specific cancer diet has been accepted by evidence based medicine so far. To the contrary: a one-sided and limited diet (e.g. macrobiotics in its extreme form) may be harmful, cause nutritional deficits, and may increase weight loss.

Versions of this article in other languages


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  1. Bild-Zeitung, first page January 28, 2010