Starving Cancer, Eating Healthy, Anti Angiogenesis

In the fight against chronic disease, researchers have begun to take a broader view; looking for common denominators. They have found one in abnormal angiogenesis.

“Angio” means vessel and “genesis” refers to formation or origin – so angiogenesis refers to the formation of new blood vessels in the body. That sounds like a normal thing for the body to do. Yet, healthy humans only form new blood vessels to heal a wound (blood vessels form under the scab), or when pregnant or prior to menstruating. Our bodies succumb to certain diseases when the growth of new blood vessels is out of balance.

A growing list of more than 70 diseases — including obesity, cancers, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, age-related blindness — share angiogenesis as a trait

In his TED talk, William Li, PhD, MD, President and Director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, describes the role of angiogenesis in the proliferation of cancer cells. Since tumors require their own blood supply to grow any larger than the tip of a ballpoint pen, cutting off angiogenesis starves the tumor. Can We Eat to Starve Cancer? is a MUST SEE talk – full of hopeful information about the future of cancer treatment, as well as advice on what we can do to prevent or slow the disease.

Dietary Sources of Naturally-Occurring Anti Angiogenic Substances

Li’s research approaches angiogenesis from a dietary perspective, studying which foods are angiogenesis inhibitors. No surprise they are the same health-promoting anti-inflammatory super foods we eat for their vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. Better yet, consuming a variety of  these fruits, vegetables, spices, and oils gives a synergistic boost to their health-giving properties.


Some forms of cancer are currently treated with anti angiogenic drugs, and as research continues, pharmaceutical companies are introducing new treatments to the market.  Most are used in conjunction with conventional therapies of chemotherapy and radiation. 

Please watch the TED talk and continue to eat (or up your intake of) whole plant-based foods.


The Angiogenesis Foundation

Eat to Beat Cancer™ Anti-Angiogenesis: Cutting Off Tumor Supply Lines. July 12, 2013. by Michael Greger, MD.

The Wall Street Journal. The Angiogenesis Foundation Presents Concept of Antiangiogenic Foods at IFT 2013 Annual Meeting + Food Expo. July 16, 2013.

WebMD. A Cure for Cancer? New Anticancer Drugs Living Up to Promise; A look at angiogenesis inhibitors, experimental cancer treatments. March 10, 2000. by Denise Mann.

My Genes Are Not the Boss of Me!

cancer cell

After I was diagnosed and treated for thyroid cancer seven years ago, I had a little freak out. On the one hand, I was reassured that if I was to have cancer, thyroid cancer is the kind to have. It’s relatively easy to treat and highly curable. Okay, that’s great. However, if I had cancer, doesn’t that mean at some point something went haywire at the cellular level? Why didn’t my healthy cells kick those cancer cells to the curb? If it happened once, isn’t it more likely to happen again, somewhere else like my lung, my breast, or my brain? I’ve been told it’s not, but hey, I’m not taking any chances.

My cancer diagnosis changed my attitude toward my body. That wake up call is the driving force behind my work as a health and wellness coach. I want others to understand that when it comes to the chronic diseases of the western world – heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and obesity — our health is largely up to us. I don’t know what caused my cancer, but I do know our genes are not the boss of us! The way in which we take care of our bodies can determine which genes are expressed. If our parents are obese, we probably have that propensity, but it’s only a factor in the equation. It’s not our fate.

My grandfather suffered a heart attack at age 40. It happened at a time when medicine was just making the connection between diet, exercise and cardiovascular health. I remember hearing that my grandmother – a wonderful cook – changed up some things in her kitchen, especially replacing butter with margarine. My grandfather lived another 30+ years, so her efforts obviously paid off. By the time their son, my father, was 40, he was dedicated to regular exercise and has always maintained a healthy weight. His actions were a direct response to what he feared his genes might have in store for him.

Angelina JolieIn the case of Angeline Jolie, who carries the BRCA1 gene and opted for a double mastectomy to diminish her chances of developing breast cancer, I sincerely hope she combined that decision with a commitment to a chronic disease-bashing lifestyle. Last interview I read, she was tucking into a juicy steak and red wine, so maybe not.

We tend to get stuck thinking our health is predetermined by fate, the quality of our healthcare, or our genes. Don’t forget that WE play the most pivotal role in determining our health. Food is medicine. Choose mindfully what you put into your body. Sleep balances your hormones and restores your willpower. Get plenty of it. Exercise boosts your immune system and promotes cell turnover. Make it a regular part of each day.

Safeguarding Your Health: Disease Prevention through Sleep, Food, Mood and ExerciseSounds so simple, doesn’t it? Sometimes we need to reinforce what we “know we should be doing” with some current information that can make this all come together to form a pretty darn compelling picture. The support of a group helps too. And we could all use some effective tools to help us figure out how to make these changes in a way that they will stick.

If you’re nodding your head to any of this, please check out my upcoming online workshop – Safeguarding Your Health: Disease Prevention through Sleep, Food, Mood and Exercise. It starts in nine days, and has the tools, the group, the support, and the information. Please join me!