By Yeong Sek Yee And Khadijah Shaari
The concept of angiogenesis is very new. It was only in 1994 that, after Dr Judah Folkman’s key concept of his new theory of cancer was published in the periodical “CELL” that overnight, angiogenesis became one of the principal targets in cancer research. What then is angiogenesis?
Briefly angiogenesis means blood vessel formation. Tumour angiogenesis is the growth of new blood vessels that tumours need to grow and this is caused by the release of chemicals by the tumour. Conversely, angiogenesis inhibitor is a substance that may prevent the formation of blood vessels. In anti-cancer therapy, an angiogenesis inhibitor may prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumours need to grow.
In “ANTICANCER: A NEW WAY OF LIFE,” Dr David Servan-Schreiber, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, described Dr Judah Folkman’s various experiments in the late 1960s and 1970s that gave him (Dr Folkman) the first glimmering of a wild inspired hunch. What if cancerous tumours, in order to expand, needed to trigger the growth of new blood vessels to feed themselves? And if that was true, what if a way could be found to stop that growth? Could cancers be starved to death? Experiment by experiment, Dr Folkman built up the key concepts of his new theory of cancer (i.e. angiogenesis). Some main points of Dr Folkman’s theory (see page 52 of ANTICANCER) are:
- Micro tumours cannot change into dangerous cancers without creating a new network of blood vessels to feed them.
- To do so, they produce a chemical substance called angiogenin that forces the vessels to approach them and to sprout new branches.
- The new tumour cells that spread to the rest of the body i.e. metastasis are dangerous only when they are able, in turn, to attract new blood vessels.
- Large primary tumours send out metastases….but as in any colonial empire, they prevent these distant territories from becoming too important by producing another chemical substance that block the growth of new blood vessels – angiostatin.(This explains why metastases sometimes suddenly grow once the principal tumour has been surgically removed)
Dr Folkman spent 20 years in the wilderness. Nobody believed him. He was scorned, criticised and described as a looney. Other doctors shook their heads at the waste of a great mind, and ambitious young medical researchers were told that accepting a position in Folkman’s lab would be the death of their careers. In “ANTICANCER,” Dr Schreiber described Dr Folkman’s 20 years journey in the wilderness as “Crossing the Dessert” (page 53). This is a classic example of Schopenhauer’s saying:–All great truth goes through three phases. First, it is ridiculed, then violently attacked, and finally accepted as self-evident (page 53). This will probably be the case in the concept of anti-angiogenic foods as described in the ensuing sections.
(NB: Perhaps, if you would like to follow Dr Folkman’s journey “Crossing the Desert,” do read “DR FOLKMAN’S WAR” written by acclaimed science writer Robert Cooke. Reading the forward by Dr Everett Koop, MD, ScD, you will soon realise that the title of the book is not Dr Folkman’s War against cancer but it was a war against the scientific and medical community which took more than 20 years to recognise his concept of angiogenesis).
Today, many drugs similar to angiostatin (such as Avastin, Sutent and Nexavar) have been developed by the pharmaceutical industry. But “their effect on humans when used alone have turned out to be disappointing” (ANTICANCER page 54). This view is also shared by medical oncologist Dr Richard Frank, MD (in FIGHTING CANCER WITH KNOWLEDGE AND HOPE) in which he said that…“although targeted therapies (angiogenesis inhibitor drugs as mentioned above) were developed with the hope that they would be magic bullets that would neatly eradicate cancer through the selective targeting of one critical molecule, in general they have fallen short of their lofty goal” (page180). Anti-angiogenesis drugs have produced more troublesome side effects than foreseen. As a result, they are probably not the long-hoped-for miracle drugs (ANTICANCER page 54).
According to Dr David Servan-Schreiber, as an alternative to waiting for the miracle drug, there are natural approaches that have a powerful effect on angiogenesis without side effects and that can be combined perfectly with conventional treatments (page54). These are:
- Specific dietary practices (many natural anti-angiogenesis foods have been discovered recently, including common edible mushrooms, green tea, spices, and herbs)..
- Everything that contributes to reducing inflammation, the direct cause of the growth of new blood vessels.
Anti-angiogenesis foods listed by Dr Schreiber are green tea, olives and olive oil, turmeric and curry, ginger, cruciform vegetables, garlic, onion, leeks, shallots, chives, vegetables and fruits rich in carotenoids, tomatoes and tomato sauce, soy, mushrooms, herbs, and spices, seaweed, berries, plums, peaches & nectarines, citrus fruits, pomegranate juice, red wine, dark chocolate, vitamin D, Omega-3s, probiotics and foods rich in selenium. (For a complete exposure of these foods we urge you to read Chapter 8: The Anti-Cancer Foods. We also urge you to watch the DVD entitled “AntiCancer with Dr David Servan-Schreiber.” Some links are available on YouTube.com as follows:
a) Dr David Servan-Schreiber’s Remarkable Story:
b) Natural Defences in Preventing and Treating Cancer:
Anti-angiogenis or anti-angiogenic foods? Your doctor/ oncologist will in all probability pour scorn on this concept with the usual comments–not proven, not scientifically tested, etc. But frankly, are all the conventional cancer treatments properly and scientifically and independently tested?
Who else has done research and written about anti-angiogenic dietary factors under the concept of angiogenesis?
In the forefront of such research is Dr William Li MD, the founder of The Angiogenesis Foundation, the world’s first non-profit organisation dedicated to conquering disease using the new approach based on angiogenesis, the growth of new capillary blood vessels in the body.
According to Dr Li, many foods contain naturally occurring inhibitors of angiogenesis. When these foods are consumed and absorbed into the blood stream, the inhibitors act to boost the body’s existing system that suppresses undesirable angiogenesis that can promote or accompany disease.
The following is a list of foods (according to Dr Li) that have innate properties which inhibit angiogenesis, thus working to cut off cancer tumours from blood supplies. These are green tea, berries, citrus fruits, apples, pineapple, cherries, red grapes, red wine, cruciferous vegetables, soybeans, ginseng, mushroom, liquorice, turmeric, nutmeg, lavender, artichokes, pumpkin, sea cucumber, tuna, parsley, garlic, tomato, olive oil, grape seed oil, dark chocolate. (Source: Angiogenesis Foundation Website: http://www.angio.org).
Also we recommend that you watch a video of Dr William Li enlightening you about “angiogenesis,” its impact on the human body, its connection to cancer and how you can deal with it.
To view the video, try the following links: –
- or just type in Dr William Li on YouTube or on Google
Dr Judah Folkman’s visionary ideas on cancer treatment served as a starting point and inspired two Canadian cancer researchers to theorise and confirm that “there is some weakness in the armor of tumor cells that might allow us to better our chances of destroying them” (Incidentally Chapter 4 in Dr Schreiber book “ANTICANCER” is entitled “Cancer’s Weakness”) These two researchers Dr Richard Beliveau, PhD and Dr Denis Gingras, PhD worked on the premise that “despite its great power, its versatility, and its enormous ability to adapt to hostile conditions of neighbouring cells, the cancer cells remains extremely dependent upon its energy needs. To grow, a tumour requires a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. Their studies strongly suggest that certain types of cancers can be prevented by modifying our dietary habits to include foods with the power to fight tumours at the source and thus prevent their growth.
According to Dr Believeau and Dr Gingras, “nature supplies us with an abundance of foods rich in molecules with very powerful anticancer properties capable of engaging with the disease without causing any harmful side effects. In many respects, these foods possess therapeutic properties on par with those of synthetic drugs” (Ha, Big Pharma definitely won’t like this statement)
Some of the specific foods researched by Dr Beliveau and Dr Gingras are: cruciferous vegetables, garlic and onions, soy, turmeric, green tea, berries, omegs-3s, tomatoes, fresh fruits, and dark chocolates.
Dr Beliveau and Dr Gingras distilled their research findings into a simple book for the lay person- “FOODS TO FIGHT CANCER” –the goal of this book is to present a summary of the scientific studies currently available.
Another medical doctor who believes and has written on the subject of angiogenesis is Dr Joel Fuhrman, a board-certified family physician who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods. In this book “SUPER IMMUNITY” Dr Fuhrman touched on angiogenesis in Chapter 3 under the heading, “The Anticancer Solution” The salient points in this section are: –
- Many plant foods contain natural angiogenesis inhibitors- especially mushrooms
- Dietary angiogenesis inhibitors are now being investigated as a preventive strategy to “starve” cancers while they are still small and harmless.
- If our diet contains plenty of angiogenesis inhibitors, it can prevent small tumours from acquiring a blood supply and growing larger and becoming more aggressive or cancerous.
- Some anti-angiogenic foods/nutrients listed by Dr Fuhrman are allium vegetables, berries, black rice, cinnamon, citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables, flax seeds, ginger, Grapes, green tea, mushrooms, Omega-3 fats, peppers, pomegranate, quince, resveratrol, soybeans, spinach, tomatoes, and turmeric. (Scientific studies are quoted by Dr Fuhiman in the end NOTES)
- On the other hand, “there are foods and nutrients that promote angiogenesis–and thus obesity and cancer. These include white-flour based breads and sweets that raise insulin levels, and the high-fat, high-cholesterol, standard, Western diet. These modern, unhealthy foods promote fat storage in addition to having a high-caloric density. They are a double negative, while green, mushrooms, onions, berries and the other foods listed above are a double positive”
In concluding the chapter, Dr Fuhrman laments that… “many people choose to reject new science even when the evidence is overwhelming. This book, SUPER IMMUNITY, may be attacked by people in powerful positions of authority whose livelihood is dependent on competing interests such as “recreational” foods, drugs and medical technology. Does this sound familiar to you?
In “FIGHTING CANCER WITH KNOWLEDGE AND HOPE,” oncologist Dr Richard Frank clearly stressed that:
- Diet can promote or inhibit the formation of cancer in many ways
- There are both good and bad foods to influencing the development of cancer
- More direct links between particular components of food and cancer have been confirmed by some recent studies. A classic link is attached.
Although “anti-angiogenesis drugs (like Avastin, Sutent, Nexavar) prevent tumours from growing the blood vessels they need to grow, none is perfect” (page 481). This is the view of Dr Keith Block, MD an Integrative Oncologist who explained that “just as tumours can switch to a second growth pathway if their primary pathway is blocked by a chemotherapy drug, so tumour can switch to a backup pathway for growing blood vessels when the first pathway is blocked by an anti-angiogenesis drug”(page 481).
Just as drug cocktails are a hot area of research in mainstream oncology, so combinations of anti-cancer compounds are some of the most exciting advances in integrative care…. there exists natural compounds that target the same growth pathways as leading-edge pharmaceuticals (page 505).
Some of natural compounds that have anti-angiogenic properties are berries (most types) which inhibit production of VEGF, a common growth pathway, and also prevent angiogenesis. The soy compound genistein also inhibits VEGF and angiogenesis which may be one reason soy is associated with lower cancer rates. Other natural compounds that can stimulate cells of the immune system to seek out and identify malignant cells are: aloe vera, acemannan, ginseng, curcumin, green tea polyphenols, resveratrol, mushrooms, grape seed extract, etc. (page 505/507)
All the above comments by Dr Block are contained in his bestselling book “LIFE OVER CANCER” which we recommend that you read the whole book or at least chapter 4 “The Anti-Cancer Diet” In this chapter, you will learn why you should not eat the following when you have cancer: –
- Animal Protein
- Bad Fats
- Refined Carbohydrates
- Dairy Products
Dr Block strongly believes that diet affects cancer both directly and indirectly. Nutrients directly impact the mechanisms by which cancer cells grow and spread. They indirectly help control the cancer by changing the surrounding biochemical conditions that either encourage or discourage the progression of malignant disease. The bottom line is that what you eat can spell the difference between conquering your disease or having it rage out of control (page 56).
For more information of the book by Dr Block, visit the following links:
Dr Margaret Cuomo, MD, and a board–certified radiologist wrote the book, “A WORLD WITHOUT CANCER” gave a few tips on “Fighting Cancer with Nutrition and Physical Activity.” Dr Cuomo suggests the following for a Cancer-Prevention Diet: –
a) Eat more fruits and vegetables – such as berries, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, dark green, leafy vegetables (page 205).
b) Buy organic – The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies more than 400 chemicals, including those used in pesticides, as carcinogens (page 206).
c) Eat more Fibre – fibre dilutes the carcinogens in the colon; reduce the time in which they remain there, enhanced anti-oxidant action, or produce bacteria that promote, or produce bacteria that promotes a healthy digestive tract (page 206).
d) Avoid Red Meat – a growing body of evidence points to an association between beef, pork, lamb, and goat and cancers of the colon, prostate, pancreas and kidney (page 208/209). Carcinogens may also be present in smoked, salted, or cured meat and in meats cooked at high temperatures.
Besides the above, Dr Cuomo also advise cancer patients to eat more fish, drink green tea, increase consumption of resveratrol, flavor food with turmeric and lastly to limit processed foods (page 207-209).
For further reference, read Dr Cuomo’s article:
- Cancer Prevention Tips from Dr Margaret Cuomo, MD
Another prominent medical doctor, Dr Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon, believes that “nutrients do block angiogenesis” (pages 182/183)….especially the flavonoids from edible plants such as genistein extracted from soybeans, catechins found in grape-seed extracts, apigenin and luteolin which occur in high concentrations in celery. In his book, “NATURAL STRATEGIES FOR CANCER PATIENTS,” Dr Blaylock advised that doing two things will significantly reduce tumour angiogenesis:
- Correcting your dietary ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats,
- Increasing your intake of vegetables.
Essentially, it means that a diet of omega-3 products inhibits angiogenesis and a diet high in the omega-6 fats powerfully promotes cancer growth and spread. Nicotine also increases angiogenesis.
A prominent cancer researcher and scientific advisor to the University of Texas Centre for Alternative Medicine, D John Boik, PhD is the author of 2 very scientific texts……CANCER AND NATURAL MEDICINE and NATURAL COMPOUNDS IN CANCER THERAPY. In the 2 books, the subject of angiogenesis is extensively covered.
Some of the natural inhibitors of angiogenesis are curcumin, EPA and DHA, garlic, melatonin, resveratrol, plant flavanoids (genistein, apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, green tea catechins such as EGCG). Read Chapter 8-Natural Inhibitors of Angiogenesis. In this chapter, Dr Boik also pointed out that…”eicosanoids derived from omega-6 fatty acids facilitate cancer progression and eicosanoids derived from omega-3 fatty acids inhibit it.”
Finally, we would like to share with you an E-Book or Nook Book that we found and it is written by Dr Hratch Karamanoukian, MD and a prominent cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon who has specialized in minimally invasive cardiac surgery, thoracic surgery, robotic surgery and vein disorders. In “40 FOODS THAT FIGHT CANCER,” he shares his wisdom as follows:
- Some foods can help you to fend off cancer, while others could actually be increasing your risk of cancer. Knowing the right foods to add to your diet is very important.
- Choosing the best foods will be able to help you strengthen and build your immune system, which means fighting off diseases is going to be easier. The right foods are going to make your body stronger and increase your overall health
The following are the 40 Foods that Dr Karamanoukian recommends in his book:
- Eat more vegetables……broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mushrooms, seaweed, sweet potatoes, turnip greens, onions, summer and winter squash, spinach, olives and Brussels sprouts.
- Add more fruits to your diet…..tomatoes, avocadoes, grapefruit, figs, oranges, papaya, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, pears, grapes and lemons.
- Spices, beans and other foods to help fight cancer…..garlic, sunflower seeds, oregano, turmeric, red wine, peanuts, ginger, tea, brown rice, black beans, ground flaxseed, quinoa, peppermint and fish.
BESIDES THE ABOVE BOOKS REVIEWED, YOU MAY WISH TO READ FURTHER. WE RECOMMEND THE FOLLOWING LINKS:
a) THE ANGIOGENESIS FOUNDATION http://www.angio.org/
On the main page, click on UNDERSTANDING ANGIOGENESIS and then click on DIET, LIFESTYLE AND ANGIOGENESIS.
b) EAT TO DEFEAT CANCER http://www.eattodefeat.org/
On the main page, click on Food to view the list of foods profiled as cancer-fighting foods and then click on Evidence for a list of articles to read.
d) AG SCIENTIFIC BLOG
There are a lot more of other such articles…..just google for either anti-angiogenesis or anti-angiogenic foods.
After you have read this far, you would definitely be able to differentiate between foods that inhibit angiogenesis and foods that promote angiogenesis. Remember, your life is in your hands….not in your doctor’s and the choice is yours to decide.
NB: If you are still unsure as to what to cook or how to cook, get hold of a copy of HEALTHY COOKING …A Beginner’s Guide to Preparing Healthy Meals by Ch’ng Beng Im Teo. (ISBN NO: 978-983-2590-25-5).
NB: THESE NOTES, COMPILED BY YEONG SEK YEE AND KHADIJAH SHAARI, ARE MEANT STRICTLY FOR YOUR INFORMATION AND NOT INTENDED TO DISSUADE YOU FROM SEEKING CONVENTIONAL CANCER TREATMENTS. THIS HAS TO BE SOLELY YOUR RESPONSIBILITY/DISCRETION.