Prevent Cancer: new research says we can eat to starve cancer cells

It is remarkable to read the amount of research surfacing that discusses cancer prevention.  TED.com is never short of fascinating speakers with information that seems so life changing.  But recently Dr. William Li gave an amazing speech on how cancer cells can be starved, we can actually prevent them from ever metastasizing.    Now, it is hard to simplify his research any further than he did in his presentation.  And, I realize not everyone will want to watch his 20 minute speech.  So I have decided to paraphrase his amazing discovery because I believe it can help everyone.  As I breakdown his brilliant research, I want to be clear that I am paraphrasing some things and simply writing his exact words because there simply is not a better way to say.  The photos I provided are from his presentation.  They will help to visualize the details below.

The basis of his research has to do with the blood vessels in our body.  So hang in there are read through a few basic facts about blood vessels.

Angiogenesis is the process our bodies use to grow blood vessels.  They can adapt to any environment they are grow in.  Now the science of angiogenesis is not new, but this speaker made learning about it inviting.

4 Amazing Facts:

  1. There are 60,000 miles worth of blood vessels in our bodies.
  2. We get most of our blood vessels in utero, except for women who grow them in the uterus each month, during pregnancy and every time men/women get a scab in which case they grow under the wound.
  3. The body can regulate any amount of blood vessel growth at any time.   This is actually the process of angiogenesis.
  4. There are 70 diseases that share the same abnormal angiogenesis, but appear to look completely different on the surface. This is particularly true of cancer.

Well, hopefully I have not lost you so far.  It gets more interesting.  Dr. Li explains that cancers do not actually begin with a blood supply.  It is actually when the cancer cells receive a blood supply that they are able to mature, grow, expand, spread or simply metastasize.

This is why angiogenesis is so valid.  Dr. Li original hypothesize, which he later proves, is that if you block the access of the blood vessels to the cancer cells you can prevent cancer from becoming harmful.   Cancer cells are most dangerous when they are fertilized or multiplying.  Here approach to curing and preventing cancer is to apply – ANTI-angiogenesis therapy (do not let blood vessels feed the cancer cells).

Dr. Li’s Success Stories (where quality of life did not suffer)

  1. They have done testing on brain and breast cancer cells. They starved the tumor with drugs.  Tumor shrinkage occurred in both cases.
  2. Milo the dog was treated with a cocktail that was put in his food.  In 7 weeks Milo’s cancer remised.  They have had about 60% response rate in over 600 dogs (these were drug slated to be euthanized) who they have been treating with anti-angiogeneic therapy.
  3. They have even tested their treatment in the form of pastes and creams on a Dolphin with cancer in its mouth and a horse with cancer on its lips (also present in its thyroid).  Both animals survived.  The horse actually lived over 6 more years.

What does this mean for humans?

12 drugs have already been made for humans and there has been over 70% success in a few cancers like kidney, but not metstatic breast.  (  See the chart  ) So Dr. asks why, if they all have the same underlying common denominator? The answer is that they are getting to these other cancers too late.  So they need to get to it sooner.  Dr. Li explains that they went back to biology of angiogenesis.

The Major Discovery:

We need to beat angiogenesis from occurring to the cancer cells, that way t they ever become dangerous.  This means inhibitors of angiogenesis will starve the cancer cells.

Can we eat to starve cancer?  Yes!

It is not enough to just have drugs and treatments that employ anti-angiogenesis because the cancer cells have already been given a chance to eat, so-to-speak.  Allowing them to grow and then starving them has only been successful in a couple forms of caners (like kidney).  We have to make sure they are never fed to begin with.

MOST IMPORTANT POINT: We can eat to starve cancer!

Dr. Li looked at natural food sources that are already filled with inhibitors of angiogenesis.  So he created a method to test foods and determine which have the highest potency.  This is valid because 90-95% of cancers are environmentally caused. So Dr. Li is testing foods so there is a rating system for foods that reveal which food sources are most potent in inhibiting blood vessels from feeding the already millions of cancer cells that lay dormant in our bodies from the age of 30 years and older.

MORAL OF THE STORY:  Get control of your diet.  Include foods from this list in your daily consumption of calories.  Dr. Li’s research is hardly the first source of scientifically-based information that promotes foods like grapes, tomatoes, red wine, kale, berries, garlic, oranges and more with tremendous health benefits.  I hope you found my paraphrasing of Dr. William Li’s brilliant speech and the science to be easy to follow and worth the time.  Here is the link to his speech on TED.com.

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