The macrobiotic diet has become popular among many women who want to do whatever they can to lower their risk of getting breast cancer for the first time or reduce the risk of a breast cancer coming back. Vegetables and whole grains are the centerpiece of the macrobiotic diet. Most foods are processed very little, and eating dairy products, red meat, coffee, eggs, and sugar is discouraged. Vitamins and supplements are also discouraged.
The macrobiotic diet is part of a broader macrobiotic philosophy of life that emphasizes physical activity and advocates limiting exposure to pesticides and chemicals as well as electromagnetic radiation. Macrobiotics also recommends specific ways of cooking food and using only pans and utensils made of wood, glass, steel, or enamel.
Studies of women who followed a macrobiotic diet showed that compared to other women they had slightly lower estrogen levels, which may lower the risk of breast cancer that depends on estrogen for its growth. Right now, there is no scientific evidence that a macrobiotic diet will reduce breast cancer risk. Because the diet is rich in vegetables and whole grains, it contains many phytochemicals that may provide a range of health benefits. Following a strict macrobiotic diet that has no animal products will probably not give you enough protein, iron, calcium, and other important minerals, especially if you are having chemotherapy or other breast cancer treatment.
More research is needed on the macrobiotic diet and how it may affect breast cancer risk. If you're interested in macrobiotics, talk to your doctor and a registered dietitian to make sure you're getting enough nutrients and that your diet is properly balanced. You may be able to modify the macrobiotic diet to meet your individual circumstances.