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Cancer. I hate this disease. My sister was diagnosed with it at about age 5. She, along with my mother, father, and I, spent the next 16 years in and out of hospitals getting treatments that, arguably, were sometimes worse than the disease. The chemotherapies, radiation, and surgeries, in-and-of-themselves, can destroy your life (e.g., baldness, weakness, vomiting, physical disabilities, taking you away from school, family, and friends, low self-esteem). I would bet that every one of us knows someone whose life has completely changed from this terrible disease. So what is to be done to prevent cancer? Would you believe eating differently? Pull up a glass of red wine, get some strawberries, open a pack of Twizzler's licorice, and listen to this...


There's a medical revolution happening all around us, and it's one that's going to help us conquer some of society's most dreaded conditions, including cancer. And the revolution is called angiogenesis, and it's based on the process that our bodies use to grow blood vessels...

So the body has the ability to regulate the amount of blood vessels that are present at any given time. And it does this through an elaborate and elegant system of checks and balances, stimulators and inhibitors of angiogenesis, such that, when we need a brief burst of blood vessels, the body can do this by releasing stimulators, proteins called angiogenic factors that act as natural fertilizer and stimulate new blood vessels to sprout. And when those excess vessels are no longer needed, the body prunes them back to baseline using naturally occurring inhibitors of angiogenesis. Now there are other situations where we start beneath the baseline, and we need to grow more blood vessels just to get back to normal levels. For example, after an injury. And a body can do that too, but only to that normal level, that set point...

In total, there are more than 70 major diseases, effecting more than a billion people worldwide, that all look on the surface to be different from one another, but all actually share abnormal angiogenesis as their common denominator. And this realization is allowing us to reconceptualize the way that we actually approach these diseases by controlling angiogenesis...

And in fact, we're probably forming these microscopic cancers all the time in our body. Autopsy studies from people who died in car accidents have shown that about 40 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 50 actually have microscopic cancers in their breasts. About 50 percent of men in their 50s and 60s have microscopic prostate cancers. And virtually 100 percent of us, by the time we reach our 70s, will have microscopic cancers growing in our thyroid. Yet, without a blood supply, most of these cancers will never become dangerous...

So the body's ability to balance angiogenesis, when it's working properly, prevents blood vessels from feeding cancers. And this turns out to be one of our most important defense mechanisms against cancer. In fact, if you actually block angiogenesis and prevent blood vessels from ever reaching cancer cells, tumors simply can't grow up. But once angiogenesis occurs, cancers can grow exponentially. And this is actually how a cancer goes from being harmless to deadly...

Could the answer to cancer be preventing angiogenesis, beating cancer at its own game so the cancers could never become dangerous?

...And what really intrigued me was when I saw that diet accounts for 30 to 35 percent of environmentally caused cancers...

Now, the obvious thing is to think about what we could remove from our diet, what to strip out, take away. But I actually took a completely opposite approach and began asking: What could we be adding to our diet that's naturally antiangiogenic, that could boost the body's defense system and beat back those blood vessels that are feeding cancers? In other words, can we eat to starve cancer? Well, the answer's yes... [some foods are] more potent than the actual drugs. Soy, parsley, garlic, grapes, berries, I could go home and cook a tasty meal using these ingredients. So imagine if we could create the world's first rating system in which we could score foods according to their antiangiogenic cancer-preventative properties... this human study is a prime example of how antiangiogenic substances present in food and consumed at practical levels can impact on cancer...

Now, finally, I've talked to you about food, and I've talked to you about cancer, so there's just one more disease that I have to tell you about and that's obesity. Because it turns out that adipose tissue, fat, is highly angiogenesis dependent. And, like a tumor, fat grows when blood vessels grow. So the question is: Can we shrink fat be cutting off its blood supply?

...And, in fact, you can cycle [a mouse's] weight up and down simply by inhibiting angiogenesis. So this approach that we're taking for cancer prevention may also have an application for obesity.

William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer?


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Sep 4, 2010 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=314

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