Cancer, like many other degenerative illnesses is a real plague of our age. Never mind the hysteria about Swine Flu and the like. And here is another news story on how we can address the threat of cancer through dietary means. This story comes to us from the 2010 TED conference which is now in progress.
TED stands for Technology Entertaintainment and Design. Not exactly sure how preventing cancer fits with that, but clearly someone on the program committee felt this message was an important one for everyone to hear. The excerpt below is from a news story by Mark Frauenfelder about highlights so far from this year’s TED conference on the BoingBoing blog:
“One of my favorite presentations of the day was by Dr. William Li, a cancer researcher from the Angiogenesis Foundation. Angiogenesis means the growth of blood vessels. Your body usually knows how to regulate the growth of blood vessels, but sometimes there are defects in blood growing and pruning. Too little angiogenesis can lead to things like wounds that won’t heal, heart attack, and other diseases. Too much angiogenesis leads to other bad things such as blindness, arthritis. It’s is a common denominator of many diseases. It’s also the “hallmark of every type of cancer.”
In autopsies of people who died in car accidents, doctors have found microscopic cancers in 40% of woman (breast) and 40% of men (prostate). Something like 70% of older people have microcancers in their thyroid. But the cancer is harmless — “cancer without disease.” If you block angiogenesis the cancer can’t grow. “It’s a tipping point between harmless cancer and deadly one.”
Li showed a photo of a poor dog with gnarly tumor hanging off its side. The vet gave the dog three months to live. They started antiangiogenesis drugs. In a few weeks, the tumor shrank away completely. They also cured a dolphin of mouth cancer and saw a complete remission of a deadly lip cancer on a horse.
Today there 12 different antiangiogenesis drugs available for people and dogs. They are quite effective for many cancers, but not much for liver, lung, and breast cancers. The problem with these cancers is that by the time they are detected they have progressed too far for antiangiogenesis drugs to do their work.
The good news, Li says, is that “we eat to starve cancer.” Lots of foods contain naturally occuring inhibitors of angiogenesis, and many are even better than drugs for blocking angiogenesis (see image above).
Angiogenesis also plays a huge role in obesity. “Adipose tissue is highly angiogenesis-dependent.” You can cycle the weight of mice by inhibiting and promoting angiogenesis. “We can’t create supermodel mice — it takes them to normal weight.””