“The obvious thing is to think about what we could remove from our diet. But I took a completely opposite approach and began asking: What could we be adding to our diet that could boost the body’s defense system? In other words, can we eat to starve cancer?”- Dr. William Li
Cancer is the second most common form of death in the United States – claiming the lives of 1 in 4 people. While billions of dollars in high-tech research is conducted yearly, we just can’t seem to get ahead of the curve as more and more people are diagnosed with a number of types of cancers.
We often think about what we should be removing from our diet in an effort to prevent cancer, such as refined sugar and processed foods. While this is a good thing to do there may be something else we should be doing. What if we could actually add certain foods to our diet that would beat cancer at its own game?
The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates said it best when he said, “Let your food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” He was referring quite simply to the innate powers that are locked deep within the cells of living foods – those foods that provide the maximum nutrition for us are also the very foods that can starve cancer.
What is angiogenesis?
Angiogenesis literally means the creation of new blood vessels – “angio” means blood vessels and “genesis” means creation. The human body contains over 60,000 miles of blood vessels, including 19 million capillaries.
Blood vessels can adapt to whatever environment they are exposed to and the body has the amazing ability to regulate how many blood vessels are present at any time.
Angiogenesis occurs during times of health and disease. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body via blood vessels. When new tissue is developed, a blood supply is necessary for its growth and maintenance – angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood vessels, must occur.
The body can fertilize vessels to grow and also has ways to prune them back when necessary. A healthy body has control over the on and off switch and can regulate angiogenesis as needed.
However, research is now showing that in a number of diseases the body fails to either grow enough blood vessels or is not able to prune vessels when needed. When there are too many blood vessels conditions like cancer, arthritis, blindness, endometriosis, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease are fueled. When there are too few vessels, wounds don’t heal and conditions such as stroke, coronary heart disease, hair loss, erectile dysfunction, and peripheral arterial disease result.
In the case of cancer, tumors release growth factor proteins that beckon for blood vessels to grow into the tumor. This provides not only the oxygen and the nutrients that cancer needs to grow but also supplies an escape route whereby cancerous cells can exit the tumor and metastasize in other areas.
Worldwide there are over 70 major diseases that impact millions of humans on a large scale – these diseases may all look different on the outside but upon closer inspection, they all share unbalanced angiogenesis as their common denominator.
This finding is now allowing researchers to re-conceptualize disease prevention and treatment..
FACT: Cancer begins as a group of harmless cells
Imbalanced angiogenesis is a hallmark of all forms of cancer. First and foremost it is important to understand how cancer starts. All cancers begin as microscopic nests of cells that are, for all intensive purposes, harmless. They can only grow to the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen at most on their own because they don’t have their own blood supply – no nutrients or oxygen means no growth.
Autopsy studies from people who have died in car accidents show that forty percent of women between the ages of 40 and 50 have microscopic cancers in their breasts and fifty percent of men in their 50’s and 60’s have microscopic cancers in their prostate.
In fact, by the time we all reach about age 70 we all have these microscopic nests of cancer cells in our thyroid. However, the majority of these cells never develop into anything dangerous simply because they don’t have what they need to survive – that is a blood supply. Dr. Judah Folkman, a pioneer in angiogenesis, referred to this as “cancer without disease.”
Testing what is true
Cancer cells are fed by the development of new blood vessels, so it makes sense to think that once the blood supply is cut off, the tumor will no longer be fed and thus will die. Advancements in angiogenesis research based on this theory have resulted in much success in both animals as well as humans.
Dr. William Li, President and Medical Director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, has conducted extensive research in angiogenesis-based medicine – a new and comprehensive approach to fighting disease by way of restoring the body’s innate ability to control angiogenesis. Medical therapies that either stimulate the growth of new blood vessels or inhibit growth are being put to the test with great success.
Today there is a whole group of cancer treatments that block blood vessel growth that are approved and in use for cancers of the colon, kidney, breast, lung, brain and thyroid. Many patients have experienced stabilization or complete regression from tumors as a result of these drugs.
Catch cancer early
Dr. Li noticed that while many forms of cancer responded quite well to anti-angiogenesis drugs, others did not. This spawned more research which led Dr. Li back to the root cause of most disease. He hypothesized that one of the reasons some cancers responded better than others to anti-angiogenesis therapy was because many cases were in the advanced stages where the cancer had already invaded many other parts of the body. Once disease becomes rampant it is difficult, if not impossible to cure.
But what if there were certain naturally occurring anti-angiogenesis substances that one could consume in their diet, thus prohibiting cancerous tumors from ever forming? This led Dr. Li to the thought of starving cancer before it even becomes a disease – before it is too late – in essence, beating cancer at its own game. This approach would benefit both healthy people as well as those who had already beaten cancer.
Diet a major contributor
Ninety to ninety-five percent of all cancers are environmental, meaning they are outside of genetics. Out of these environmental cancers, thirty to thirty-five percent are the result of diet. In relation to diet, Dr. Li asked not what we could take away from the diet but what could be added that would beat back the blood vessels that feed cancer.
Can we eat to starve cancer? The answer, according to Li, is unequivocally, yes. Mother nature has provided a plethora of foods with naturally occurring properties designed to stop the formation of blood vessels in their tracks.
In addition, foods appear to have a synergistic impact on tumors, working together to starve cancer cells. Some types of certain foods are more potent than others. While research continues at full speed, an ongoing list of beneficial foods is being compiled.
Choose your food wisely
According to Dr. Li, we can start today, eating the foods that are known to inhibit the growth of blood vessels and make wise choices that will allow us to stay as healthy as possible by keeping cancerous cells in their infancy. Here are some of the best foods to choose from:
- Sweet Potato
- Red Grapes
- String Beans
- Green Tea
- Olive oil
- Shiitake mushrooms
Note: Dr. Li recommends eating one cancer-fighting food with each meal. For information on more cancer-fighting foods visit Eat to Beat Cancer.
Can we beat cancer? – you bet we can – in fact, we can do better than that. By making wise food choices and living a healthy lifestyle we can keep the cancerous cells that we all have in our body from ever becoming a deadly disease.