Low Amish Cancer Rates

The qualities of being a closed population, as well as good genealogical records, make the Amish an attractive group for genetic and health-related studies.

In a recently-reported Ohio State study, researchers theorized about higher rates of cancer, but found the opposite.  They discovered that Amish in Holmes County, Ohio exhibit cancer rates only 56% of the national average.

The researchers explain that low cancer rates are likely linked to both genetics and behavioral differences.

Lower levels of tobacco and alcohol use, and less sexual promiscuity among Amish mean that related cancers are less likely to appear.

They also note that Amish exhibit low levels of skin cancer, though one would expect them to spend more time in the sun than the average American (though this is apparently linked to lifestyle as well–as Amish would be more likely to work using hats and with skin covered by long-sleeved clothing).

The closed Amish gene pool leads to beneficial and harmful results.  Last year stories showed Amish exhibit lower rates of obesity, while certain rare genetic diseases appear among Amish much more frequently than in the general population.

This is one example where it looks like both lifestyle and genes lead to an overall healthier Amish population, at least regarding cancer.

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    1. One thing I’ve always wondered about is some statistic related to eyesight. It seems like so many wear glasses. Of course it might seem like that because they forego contact lenses, and who am I to talk because I’m a contact wearer, but it does seem like an awful lot of them deal with vision issues. That’s definitely not a bad thing, just a curiosity.

    2. Interesting studies. I am surprised at the low rate of cancer.

    3. Beth, interesting observation. I have run into occasional Amish people who wear contact lenses, but it’s probably safe to say they’d be less common than in the general pop.

    4. Alexandria

      Im not positive but I believe there are other factors that contribute to the low rate of cancers. I believe it could be their diet and the fact that they don’t use mainstream products which have so many chemicals and toxins in them. They eat their own foods primarily. The covering up is not the reason. The sun is actually very significant in good health.

    5. I would be very interested in a study of the Geauga County Amish. On my mother’s side of the family, there is such a high rate of cancer — as in that has been the cause of death for those who have died. This includes my cousin’s daughter who was in her teens, several cousins who were in their forties or fifties, several aunts and uncles, my mother, my sister… the list goes on. And then there are those who are battling cancer now. Studying my mother’s relatives would be an interesting study in itself… my mother had 11 siblings, there were 105 of us first cousins, and I have no idea how many children my cousins have had. I have often wonder if there is an environmental factor in that area, because the cancer rate is so high there, even in the general population. It would be interesting to compare a study in Geauga County to that of Holmes County.

      1. RJurende

        I think the cancer rates could be even lower!

        I’ve studied health and nutrition for 30+ years as a hobby and everything points back to diet being the main cause of disease. A good book to read on this is The China Study by Colin Campbell. The book reviews a study that was done back in the 1970’s in China involving over 800,000,000 people (almost a billion).

        This is the largest biomedical study thats been done in the history of mankind. The things they learned are profound, they saw that genetics played a VERY small part (2 Percent) in the disease puzzle, especially cancer.

        Colin Campbell makes a very important statement in the book “Genes do not determine disease on their own. Genes function only by being activated, or expressed, and nutrition plays a critical role in determining which genes, good and bad, are expressed.”

        Geauga County has an average cancer rate when compared to the rest of Ohio. My guess would be that the Amish in Geauga County live a different lifestyle from the Amish in Holmes county. From what I have read some of the Amish that are taking on jobs in mainstream America are starting to eat fast food (NOT good). Some Amish are also starting to buy processed foods from mainstream grocery stores.

        If it’s true that they are starting to eat fast food and processed food then the cancer rates for those Amish are guaranteed to be VERY high. Not only has the China Study shown us the correlation between the SAD Diet (Standard American Diet) and disease but thousands of other studies have too.

        I would be very curious to know if there is a correlation here. Maybe Saloma Furlong can shed some light on this? How is the lifestyle of the Amish in Geauga County different from the lifestyle of the Amish in Holmes County, with a focus on diet.

        If you or someone you know is dealing with cancer there are a couple of diets out there that are very powerful. One is the Gerson Therapy and the other is the Hallelujah Diet. I have personally talked to several people that have tried the Hallelujah Diet for cancer and had GREAT results.

        Spoke with two women that had breast cancer, they cured it in 6-10 months. One guy had melanoma cancer on his face, he cured it in 6 weeks. Another man I talked to had stage 4 terminal cancer, given only months to live by doctors, cancer was in every bone in his body. He refused chemo and radiation went on the Hallelujah Diet by the book, 6 months later he had another PET scan and he was 100 percent cancer free.

        Over 10,000 people have tried this diet, it works, but you have to stick to it 100 percent! Many people fail on these cancer reversing diets because they think it’s ok to eat a little bad food once in a while, it’s NOT ok.

        Unfortunately even the the Amish in Holmes County eat a diet that puts them at a high risk of cancer. High in animal product (eggs, milk, beef, pork, cheese), refined grains, refined sugar. I think if the Amish knew which foods promote cancer and they avoided them they could be almost 100 percent cancer free. This would really open the eyes of the American people, but to me 40 percent lower breast cancer rates are already eye opening.

        I think there is a ratio in the foods they eat that is attributing for the breast cancer rates in Holmes County, this could be easily figured out with research and maybe lower the the breast cancer rates even more, maybe even to zero!

        I think the Amish now have the same cancer rates we had 100 years ago when we were eating the same foods.

        I ran across this “Amish Cancer Diet”, it has some very good points, but think this diet is weak in several areas. I would recommend going with the Gerson or Hallalujah diet, they are proven to have a high success rate.

        Amish Cancer Diet

        Gerson Therapy

        Hallalujah Diet

        Cancer rates in Ohio:

    6. Alexandria those are interesting points.

      Saloma, I was not aware of high cancer rates among Geauga Amish. I have no medical background but it seems like high cancer rates across all populations might indicate an external factor?

    7. michele

      Why are researchers not flocking to study this?

      Its great that the research has been done to document the rates of cancer compared to overall population but why does no one use it as a basis for new research into environmental causes for cancer.
      The study is pointless if scientists refuse to look at it from something other than what they already think they know. tobacco usage, sexual partners, genetics. How about the fact they keep their windows open several months of the year. They may or may not farm and garden organically but they do eat a significantly larger portion of real food without preservatives that did not come from a factory. They dont own microwaves. It seems no one is even looking at this control group to see what we can learn and apply to ourselves.
      The other thing is that the Amish are living more and more like us all the time. We may see their cancer rates rise as they buy more processed foods. And less like people from the 1800. Isnt it interesting that they live more like people from the 1800 ‘s and have cancer rates more like them too?

    8. michele

      The original study may or may not have been flawed but the book “The China Study” is flawed in its conclusions.
      one example is that animal protein causes cancer and plant protein does not. “one of Campbell’s most relevant experiments—which sadly received no mention in The China Study—showed that when wheat gluten is supplemented with lysine to make a complete protein, it behaves exactly like casein to promote tumor growth.11 This means that animal protein doesn’t have some mystical ability to spur cancer by mere virtue of its origin in a sentient creature” from a very good article here
      I find it almost laughable that you mention that the Amish still eat quite a bit of cancer causing foods, animal products, when where else can you find a people group that has that much lower of a cancer rate than the rest of the population?
      You might look into how polyunsaturated fats are linked to higher cancer rates over and over. Animal fats are safer. Humans have always ate as much protein and fat as they could manage. THe factory fats, preservative, pasteurization, hemial gmo’s, that’s all new. Maybe they are linked to the skyrocketing cancer rates in industralized countries?

      1. michele

        above comment in response to RJurende

    9. RJurende

      In response to: “The China Study” is flawed in its conclusions.

      In response to “the book “The China Study” is flawed in its conclusions”.

      China Study author Colin Campbell slaps down critic (Denise Minger)

      another good read:

      Healthy Diet and Lifestyle, Oncology
      Grass-Fed Animal Agriculture
      (In response to a reader’s question concerning Dr. Mercola’s views on The China Study)


      In response to “almost laughable that you mention that the Amish still eat quite a bit of cancer causing foods”.

      A VERY basic health rule is to eliminate the so called “5 white poisons” (Meat/white fat, dairy, salt, sugar, white flour). As long as the Amish and English have the 5 white poisons in their diet they will never achieve really good health, no matter how much they exercise.

      Basically the more RAW fruits, greens and vegetables you eat and the less animal products, sugars, grains, fats, processed foods (cooked, heated, pasteurized) the better your health will be and your body will be more disease resistant.

      In response to “where else can you find a people group that has that much lower of a cancer rate than the rest of the population?”

      There are areas in rural China where the women have an almost zero risk of breast cancer (1 in 10,000), US rate now is 1 in 8, there are also several cultures that do not get cancer period (see links below). This is the whole premises of the China study, they saw VERY large variations in cancer rates between rural and city populations even though they were from the same genetic background.

      A very good book to read for basic health is Eat to Live by Dr Joel Furhman, the diet in the book was used to treat thousands of his patients with GREAT success. The China Study by T. Colin Campbell is probably one of the most important books ever written on health and nutrition.

      I don’t claim to be any kind of health expert, these are just a few observations/opinions from my 30 years of reading and researching, so take it with a grain of salt.

      I think good health comes from eating a diet that is PH balanced, nutrient dense, low to zero in animal products, not processed, high in raw fruits, vegetables, greens and a healthy source of omega 3’s.

      Hope this clears things up and most of all I hope it helps someone improve their health :o)


      Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Diet Style

      Alkaline & Acidic Foods Chart: The pH Spectrum

      Nutritional Density Chart

      What do Amish eat?

      The Five White Poisons

      How Much Meat In The Diet Is Healthy?

      Alkaline Test: How to Test Your pH Level (Saliva & Urine)

      Cultures that do not get cancer

      Why do 1 in 10,000 Chinese Women Die of Breast Cancer?

    10. Moses mom

      Electric Connection

      Today I read an old magazine, the January 2010 edition of Prevention. An article entitled “Electroshocker” explained that electromagnetic fields, such as accompanies anything electric, has been strongly linked to cancer. To research the possibility further, and knowing that Amish shun electrical conveniences, I googled “percentage of Amish with cancer.” That led me to this article. It looks like the Amish’s avoidance of electricity may explain their lower incidence of cancer.

      1. RJurende

        Moses Mom,
        I agree with electricity (EMF Electromagnetic Fields) adding to the cause, but it’s not the only cause. Microwave technology also poses a big threat, like cellphones, WIFI, Bluetooth, cell towers these have also shown to cause cancer (see link below), still this is not the total answer. Bad thing is that many of the Amish are now using cell phones and whats worse is they do not have the resources (Internet) to research the safety of these devices.

        The Cell Phone “Tower of Doom” by Dr Mercola:


        Back to what causes cancer, I’ll give you a very simple answer “Metabolic Acidosis”. Cancer only grows in a sick body where there is very little oxygen and low alkalinity (acid). This biological state of metabolic acidosis can be caused by a number of factors ranging from mental to environmental. Any type of mental (emotional stress,lack of purpose, depression, ect… ) or environmental (toxic chemicals, poor diet, electromagnetic/microwave, ect…) can throw the body out of balance and cause metabolic acidosis.

        As soon as the person changes their lifestyle and stops the metabolic acidosis the cancer stops growing and the body begins to heal, it’s that simple. Cancer CANNOT grow in a healthy body!!!!!! Below is a link to a simple chart that shows you which foods push the body towards an acid state.

        Alkaline & Acidic Foods Chart:


        I think we should maybe learn a lesson from the cultures that live cancer free and typically live to be a 100 plus, cultures like the Hunza, Okinawa, Vilcabamba and Abkhasia (see link below). Sure the Amish have 50% lower cancer rates and do not even get some forms of cancer, but what about these other cultures that have ZERO cancer, ZERO disease and live to be up to 140 years old!!!!!!

        The Longevity Diet: Secrets to living a healthy and long-lasting life


        If you look at what these cancer free cultures eat and how they live you can easily figure out the secret yourself and it becomes very evident all the things that we are doing wrong. The best thing we can do is try to copy what these cultures are doing as much as possible in order to lower our risk factors.

        Another good source for understanding cancer and disease in general is listening to alternative doctors that are “curing” not “treating” cancer on a daily bases.

        Conventional medicine does NOT have the answer for cancer, chemo, radiation and surgery are NOT the answer! Cancer is a symptom of a sick body, the cause must be addressed not the symptom!!!!!! Cutting cancer (the symptom) out of the body does NOT fix the problem!!!!!

        Below are some links for doing some research, I think after you view some of this it should become clear as to what causes cancer.

        Keep in mind the Hallalujah Diet and the Gerson Diet work extremely well at curing cancer.

        We have the answers to cancer you just have to know where to look.


        Dr. Leonard Coldwell, the lead expert on cancer


        The Surprising True Causes of Cancer: Revealed by Dr. Coldwell


        Dr. Patrick Quillin – Underlying Causes of Cancer


        ROBERT WRIGHT – AMERICAN ANTI-CANCER INSTITUTE organization dedicated to bringing the TRUTH about cancer, its prevention, and its cure to the public.


        AMERICAN ANTI-CANCER INSTITUTE Video Library: http://www.americanaci.org/video-library.html

        Dr. Peter Glidden – Chemotherapy is a Waste of Money


        Dr Burzynski movie (FULL VERSION) Should his Licence be Revoked, Clinic Closed, You Decide.



        Watch these:

        The Beautiful Truth


        The Gerson Miracle


        Dying To Have Known


        Truth on Cancer and the FDA


        Watch these videos also:


    11. Sam

      And a bit of vodoo stuff

      You’ll live a lot longer if you:
      Don’t eat. Food is polluted with chemicals that are used even those ‘organic’ foods since chemicals and everything else is all around us.

      Don’t breathe. Air is polluted with everything.

      Don’t drink. Plenty of something in water.

      Find a place in the middle of the biggest desert far from any electricity and start all of the above.


      If you don’t want to die in the next couple of minutes then you’ll just have to live with it. There are things which are not good for us but there are also so many conspiracy theories out there. And sometimes they are no better than some religious cults yet people try hard to convince others how it is all true because they believe it as being true. And guess what… you’ll never succeed.

      This is never going to be a perfect world.

    12. Jan

      This subject has been much on my mind of late. My friend’s husband, along with his 3 brothers, is leaving the cheese-house where they have worked for years because the government has imposed new regulations on the cheese-making process. As my friend says, they want to make it “sterile.” Ostensibly, the idea is to make the food safer. But I am not at all convinced that making food sterile makes it safer. For example, we know probiotics are important, and as a result, foods like Activia yogurt with “live cultures” are popular and accepted. So why would you want to make cheese “sterile”? Clearly the old way of making it has worked for centuries.

      As part of mainstream food-processing, chickens are fed antibiotics when they’re alive, and then when they’re killed, their bodies are often doused in bleach. Does this sound like something you want to put into your body?! Yet the government thinks THAT is safer for us… Now, FINALLY, a study has made headlines saying that processed meats are proven carcinogens. Duh.

      I had a friend who kept an extremely nasty type of cancer at bay by doing a “clean” diet – no sugars or caseins, minimal meat and processed foods… She could eat as much natural, organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc as she wanted. The cancer did win in the end, but before that, the tumor stopped growing for a while and the tumor markers in her blood PLUMMETED. Her amazed oncologist said, “Whatever you are doing, keep doing it!” All she was doing was avoiding putting toxic things in her body. Imagine that.

      I’m not the slightest bit surprised cancer rates are lower in the Amish (although this article says it was only Holmes County; I’d be curious to hear of a more extensive study, though I’m sure it would have similar results).