Updated: Sep 25, 2021
Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?
This is about a TED video I saw that was very interesting and got me thinking about a topic that is being discussed more frequently. Can most diseases be prevented through healthy diet and lifestyle changes? One disease that is taking the lives of people around the world at an alarming rate is cancer. It is becoming a growing and devastating problem that has been the main motivation in research regarding lifestyle changes. There are many theories circling around prevention and how to keep it from metastasizing. A few theories are linked to foods that can help cancer to grow and foods that can stop it from thriving in the human body. A TED video by William Li discusses the relationship between metastasis and angiogenesis. The link between the two has been the inspiration for this research review. Foods that prevent angiogenesis may pave the way for a very promising breakthrough in the fight against cancer.
About William Li
Dr. William Li is a physician, scientist, and author. He specializes in angiogenesis and educates on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. He has written books on eating to prevent diseases and the effects a poor diet can have on health. He is the founder of the Angiogenesis Foundation and has years of research that has changed the lives of people around the world. Among many other contributions in the field of holistic medicine, his teaching on foods that prevent specific illnesses and managing chronic conditions through diet has been so inspiring!
What is cancer?
Cancer is described as a parasite. It is a growth of cells that have lost the ability to function normally. Cancer cells do not know when to stop growing and will attach to various parts of the body to find a food source. In our bodies we have white blood cells that attack cancer cells and help prevent them from causing mayhem. Someone with a suppressed immune system is more at risk of developing aggressive forms of cancer and having it spread to other parts of the body due to lack of defenses. It can grow at an alarming rate and takes needed nutrients from its host.
Prior to watching William Li’s TED talk, I knew very little about angiogenesis. It is the process of blood vessels growing or capillaries forming from an already existing blood supply. This provides needed nutrients to various parts of the body and allows tissues to thrive. Normally, this process will only occur in certain situations such as pregnancy and tissue repair. Unfortunately, if angiogenesis takes place and provides capillaries to cancers cells, this will provide the tumor with needed nutrients to grow. Per Dr. Li, this is the cause of metastasis or cancer spreading to various parts of the body.
Eating to Starve Cancer
In 2010, William Li spoke on TED about the harmful effects of angiogenesis on cancer and how deadly it can be. Cancer cells can release chemicals that stimulate angiogenesis. Once this happens, a blood supply can be given to the tumor which gives it the ability to grow so it can spread throughout the body. In experimental drugs, when cancer patients are given anti-androgenic therapy, the tumors begin to shrink, and the amount of cancer found on a scan is decreased. This theory has also been tested on dogs that were diagnosed with cancer and very large tumors. It showed a 60% success rate.
Anti-angiogenic therapy is effective for preventing cancer from becoming life threatening. Dr. Li feels we can eat to starve cancer and provides sample studies on foods that have anti-angiogenic properties. Examples include red grapes, tomatoes, strawberries, soybeans, garlic, and many more. When certain foods that prevent angiogenesis are eaten together, the combination can be even more potent. Risk of prostate cancer has been shown to be decreased in men who eat tomatoes 2 to 3 times a week. Anti-angiogenesis has been shown to also shrink fat because the blood supply is cut off from the fat tissue. This theory not only can help starve cancer cells but can also aide in reversing obesity.
I thoroughly enjoy William Li’s research and feel his work is very credible. I do have more questions about anti-angiogenesis being used on different stages of cancer. His research showed improvement but at what stage can it rid it completely if at all? For example, if a patient was to only eat foods that have anti-angiogenic properties, could they starve cancer until it is completely gone?
I came across an article of a man who beat stage 4 colon cancer by eating only raw foods. His name is Ulysses Williams, and his story has been posted on several social media sites. He is a barbershop owner, father of 4 children, and lives in Philadelphia. He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at the age of 36. He started chemotherapy but he also did some treatments of his own. He started eating only raw foods for a year while continuing chemo. He lost weight but his health drastically improved. He has stayed cancer free and is living a very healthy lifestyle.
Stories like this show me this research is life changing and can be taken much further. I have watched patients slowly deteriorate and lose their lives to various forms of cancer. To be able to research ways to prevent it from ever becoming terminal is a huge breakthrough.
1.) Roy PS and Saikia PJ. Cancer and Cure: A Critical Analysis. Indian J Cancer. 2016; 53:441-2
2.) Li T, Kang G, Wang T, Huang H. Tumor angiogenesis and anti-angiogenic gene therapy for cancer. Oncology Letters. 2018; 16:687-702.
3.) CRN. Dr. William Li. https://www.crnusa.org/2019events/Conference-Speakers/Li Accessed August 21,2021.
4.) Raymond I. After a devastating cancer diagnosis, South Philly man overhauled his diet with and found passion for raw foods. Philadelphia, PA: The Philadelphia Inquirer; 2021.