The old adage feed a cold, starve a fever may be an outdated concept, but Dr. William Li’s revolutionary research has broken ground as a way to eat to starve cancer by cutting off the blood supply to tumors. This may sound provocative and controversial, and I assure you, I too was somewhat skeptical, which is why I strongly recommend viewing his presentation before continuing with this article (click link). Besides, Dr. Micheal Greger’s blog, Nutrition.org, further expands on the role nutrition plays in anti-angiogenesis therapy for the prevention and intervention of certain cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. See Peeling Back Cancer
There isn’t a person alive who hasn’t lost a friend or loved one to cancer. Like most people, I didn’t know how this disease operated or what I could do to prevent it from gaining a foothold. At this very moment, cancer has been setting up shop in every one of us for decades, especially for anyone over forty—regardless of how healthy we may think our diet and lifestyle is. During the three stages of cancer development, a diet rich in nutrient-dense whole foods can significantly impact the containment of these clustering cells while potentially reversing some tumor growths before they metastasize. To better understand these invaders, let’s review the 3-stages in which they operate.
Carcinogens enter the body much the way computer viruses infiltrate and corrupt a computer system. Our body’s natural defenses act as an anti-virus program to scan and firewall the invaders. But every now and then, they penetrate the microenvironment of our cells to corrupt DNA and affect gene expression. Remember the little mutant robot from the movie Transformers that assumed the form of anything it penetrated? So, too, can carcinogens adopt the identity of the original cell and continue dividing and proliferating for years while staying under the radar. In fact, during the promotion stage, when these mutant clones begin clustering and forming a tumor, they dupe the body into providing the needed scaffolding to nourish them! Once inside the DNA molecule, the body still has the opportunity to repair any damage. However, until recently, it was believed that after the DNA nuclei are impregnated, a mutant cell is born, and the damage is irreversible. In contrast, research now postulates that since the nucleus acts like an embryo, it takes its cue from the surrounding microenvironment of the extracellular matrix (membrane) much the way a fetus takes its cue from the mother’s environment. What this suggests is that depending on the internal environment, the body possesses the ability to affect the genotype of the oncogene (cancer cell), as demonstrated in Dr. Mina Bissell’s presentation: Experiments that point to a New Understanding of Cancer.
In the last 15-years, a significant paradigm shift has taken place. Where it was once believed that DNA controlled everything, today, scientific evidence shows that we are no longer prisoners of our DNA, we are epigenetic. What that means is we have the power to control gene expression at the cellular level.
The initiation stage can occur within the time it takes for the carcinogen to enter the cell, which could happen in a matter of days or even hours. After this, during the promotion stage, cancerous cells can go on proliferating for decades undetected under a microscope. But as Dr. Li pointed out, so long as they stay as individual cells and angiogenesis aren’t stimulated, they don’t have a chance to grow up and become dangerous.
A critical part of this process is the induction of local small blood vessels referred to as angiogenesis. It is within this stage that once the network is in place, rapid growth follows, which increases their ability to invade and metastasize. And although these networks permit exponential tumor growth, they are fragile and less efficient than the vascular supply to healthy tissues. A published journal in Current Oncology hypothesized “angiogenesis may be more sensitive to a cocktail of natural health products administered continuously at relatively low doses than to a single- agent pharmaceutical compound delivered intermittently at higher dose levels.”
Just as carcinogens can corrupt DNA and affect gene expression to promote cancer and other diseases, so too, can food affect gene expression and trip the switch.
In summary, click anti-angiogenesis foods for an abridged list from Dr. Li’s presentation. However, as he stated, there are strains of certain foods that have been shown in clinical trials to contain a higher potency of phytochemicals than others, as well as their synergistic properties when used in conjunction with other foods and preparation. In other words, the properties of turmeric are shown to be less bioavailable on their own than when coupled with pepper, the same held true for apples. While the effect on reducing breast cancer cells was significant in women, it had little if any effect on prostate cancer in men until the apples were paired with onions. In a comparative study using certain raw vegetables vs. cooked vegetables, tomatoes, and spinach released a more potent level of enzymes when cooked.
Hopefully, with continued research and awareness, we can beat cancer at its own game.