Eating to Starve Cancer
All cancers are completely unable to spread without a process known as angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels. Without new blood vessels, cancerous tumours would be stuck, unable to gather any oxygen or other vital nutrients they need to grow.
The purpose of blood vessels, as you might guess, is to carry blood throughout the body. There are three different types, the arteries which carry blood away from the heart, the veins which carry blood towards the heart and the capillaries which enable the exchange of the vital nutrients and minerals with our organs.
Majority of blood vessels are formed in the womb, around the same time the heart is developed. The only other times new blood vessels need to be created are during menstruation, wound healing and tumour cell development.
Blood vessels are remarkably adaptable. In the liver they form channels to detoxify the blood while in the lung they line air sacs for gas exchange.
On-going research has lead scientists to believe inhibiting angiogenesis could be the silver bullet to cancer treatment and prevention. Many different drug concoctions have been tested and are continuing to be tested with varying degrees of results. As with all drug trails this is an expensive and complicated process, balancing effectiveness with any un-wanted side effects.
A safe and simple way of helping your body to inhibit unnecessary angiogenesis would be to add naturally occurring angiogenesis inhibitors to your diet. Fortunately plenty of Paleo friendly foods contain angiogenesis inhibitors.
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One of the more interesting studies done on angiogenesis inhibitors is a study that followed 79,000 men for over 20 years. They found that the men who ate cooked tomatoes two to three times a week had up to a 50% reduction in their overall risk of developing prostate cancer.
Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, and lycopene is an antiangiogenic, good news for our inhibiting angiogenesis theory. Furthermore, this study found that out of the men who did end up developing prostate cancer, those who ate more servings of tomatoes actually had fewer blood vessels feeding their tumors, which in turn leads to a less progressive form of the cancer.
Citrus fruits are another good source of antiangiogenics. They are full of a type of antioxidant called a flavanoid. These are bioactive compounds that have been shown to have a number of health benefits including boosting the immune system and promoting cardiovascular health. The two flavanoids that are abundant in citrus fruits are nobiletin and ascorbic acid (also known as vitamin C). These are antiangiogenics. Meaning we would expect eating citrus fruits or any other angiogenesis inhibitor containing foods, should give the same effect seen for tomatoes.
If this wasn’t enough to have you reaching for the tins of tomatoes or some oranges, the same body of research has shown that adipose tissue, or fat tissue, is also highly angiogenesis dependent. In exactly the same way a tumour grows, fat grows when blood vessels grow.
The Paleolithic diet or the Paleo diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the diet of our ancestors. The diet consists of mostly meat, fish, eggs, tree nuts, vegetables, roots, fruit, berries, mushrooms and other foods that would have been available to hunter-gather societies in the Paleolithic period.
Following the Paleo lifestyle, eating plenty of antiangiogenics on a daily basis is part of the deal. It would be impossible not to with so many different vegetables in your diet.