I watched a riveting TED talk today by a medical doctor and researcher named WIlliam Li. He is studying the effects of angiogenesis on cancer growth. Angiogenesis is blood vessel growth. It seems that cancer cannot grow big (big=harmful) until it gets a blood supply. What this means is that you may have a small harmless cancer growth right now in your body that could become dangerous at any time if angiogenesis begins. They have had some success in creating pharmaceutical drugs that can inhibit angiogenesis but William Li asks, can you eat to starve cancer? (I am betting the drug companies would rather you take their drugs and keep eating the cancer-causing foods...what do you think?)
So far they have successfully cancers in animals with anti-angiogenesis drugs. The next step was testing the effects of certain foods on cancerous blood vessel growth. It is no surprise to me that they found that a number of foods have effects comparable to the anti-angiogenesis drugs! And they have an extensive list of foods to try as well. Some foods that have shown remarkable anti-angio effects are: red grapes (resveratrol), strawberries, garlic, turmeric, and more. These foods all do very well inhibiting the growth of errant blood vessels without any side effects AND with all the other synergistic benefits of the plant food.
This is another reason to eat healthy, right? But Li doesn't stop there...they went past cancer blood vessel growth to something even more widespread in this country-obesity. Li wondered if they could achieve the same anti-angiogenesis effects on adipose (fat) tissue growth with the drugs they were treating the cancers with. He reasoned that fat tissue has the same need for blood vessels in order to grow as cancer does. They tested rats that were bred to be obese. What they found was that when they gave them the drugs they actually lost weight! Take them off the drugs and they gain it back. Put them back on and they get skinny. The same effect was observed in the adipose tissue blood vessels as the cancer tissue!
My next thought was, so if the drugs work equally as well as certain foods in inhibiting angiogenesis in cancer, then shouldn't these same foods work equally as well in inhibiting angiogenesis in fat tissue? Doesn't it make sense that if you are eating these natural foods such as berries, kale, turmeric, grapes, etc. that you will be skinny? Part of it could be from the inherent anti-angiogenesis components of these foods. I can speak from experience with myself that the more healthy foods I put into my body the skinnier I get. In fact, look at anyone that eats a large amount of natural plants: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, spices, and most likely they are slender. Does this mean that the properties of anti-angiogenesis are at work via the foods they eat? Yes. Can this also mean that via their diet people can effectively, "nip cancer in the bud?" I would say so. This is why I eat and feed my kids a diet high in plant-based foods and low to nil in animal based foods.
But is this a new idea? Dr. Max Gerson developed a therapy back in the 1930s to treat cancer patients (and other diseases) that included fresh raw juices and organic vegetables and fruits. His success rate with this therapy is amazing. There are many other doctors out there right now promoting the disease preventing properties of a whole foods, plant-based diet including T.Colin Campbell, M.D., Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., Joel Fuhrman, M.D., Neal Barnard, M.D., Dean Ornish, M.D...
In conclusion, plants have many properties that are beneficial to our bodies. Adding anti-angiogenesis to the list of reasons to eat them is great. And by the way, meat and dairy were not on the list of anti-angiogenesis foods.