Some people may not realize this, but many people have cancer cells in their bodies without presenting much danger. Fortunately, there are some common foods that can cut off cancer cell’s nutrient supply and starve them to death.
For instance, researchers in Denmark performed autopsies on women aged 40 to 50, who never had cancer during their lifetime, and found that 39% of them had small cancerous lesions in their breasts. Only 1% of women in this age group would be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Examination of some men in their 60s showed that 46% of them had histological evidence of prostate cancer, which is consistent with the findings of the autopsy study. However, the prevalence of prostate cancer in men aged 60 to 70 is actually around 1%.
There is another example, which is even more extreme: Some Finnish scientists examined 101 autopsies and found that the histological detection rate of thyroid cancer in people aged 50 to 70 was nearly 100%. However, in reality, only 0.1% of people in this age group would be diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
If such a large percentage of people have cancer cells, why do only a small percentage of them develop fatal cancers? This is because the cancer cells in most people are dormant and need additional information and energy to continue to grow and become malignant tumours.
It all starts with our blood vessels.
Some Diseases Emerge Because Blood Vessels Have Grown ‘Out of Control’
In general, the blood vessels in the adult body are 60,000 miles long, and their total length is enough to circle the earth twice. Among them, we have 19 billion capillaries. Most of these vessels would have developed while a fetus is still in the womb. Under normal circumstances, the blood vessels in adults are largely unchanged, except for wound healing and tissue repair.
In addition, there are several special periods during which blood vessels grow in women. One is when blood vessels build the endometrium in the uterus each month; and another is during pregnancy, when blood vessels form the placenta that connects the mother and the fetus.
The human body is designed with great subtlety and precision to be able to balance and regulate the number of blood vessels on its own at any given time and in any given situation. When new blood vessels need to be created, such as when a wound is healing, the body releases proteins called angiogenic factors. They act like fertilizers, stimulating the sprouting of blood vessels to produce new blood vessels. The size and number of these new blood vessels are according to a set standard, and their growth won’t get out of control. When the body does not need certain blood vessels, it releases natural angiogenesis inhibitors that prune the vessels back to their original shape.
However, if for some reason the body doesn’t grow enough new blood vessels in the right place at the right time, or is unable to prune the excess blood vessels, this is an imbalance of angiogenesis, which can lead to diseases.
Dozens of major diseases are associated with angiogenesis imbalance, including atherosclerosis, diabetic retinopathy, rheumatoid arthritis, macular degeneration, psoriasis, chronic inflammation, and even cancer.
Cancer Cells Rely on Blood Vessels for Nutrients to Grow into Lethal Tumours
Angiogenesis plays a critical role in the growth of cancer.
This is because for a tumour to grow to more than a few millimetres, it requires a blood supply. Cancer cells can release angiogenic factors to create their own blood supply; they can also stimulate nearby normal cells to produce angiogenic factors, thus directing blood vessels to themselves.
The resulting new blood vessels will provide a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to the growing tumour, helping it enlarge. The cancer cells then invade nearby tissues, move to different parts of the body, and form new colonies of cancer cells, which is called tumour metastasis.
Tumours cannot grow beyond a certain size or spread if they lack blood supply. Therefore, scientists have developed a class of drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors (also known as anti-angiogenic agents) that can block tumour angiogenesis. The goal of these drugs is to prevent or slow down the development of cancer by preventing the growth of blood vessels that support the tumour and cutting off the blood supply to the tumour.
Since its introduction, anti-angiogenic therapy has received widespread attention and is one of the effective treatments for cancer. However, angiogenesis inhibitors work by slowing or stopping the growth of tumours, not by destroying cancer cells. Current research has demonstrated that in some cancers, angiogenesis inhibitors appear to be most effective when combined with other therapies, such as conventional chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and this is one of the directions that anti-cancer therapies will be further explored in the future.
Foods That Can Fight Angiogenesis and Starve Cancer Cells to Death
By severing the blood vessels around a tumour, can we cut off the cancer’s supply of nutrients and starve the cancer cells to death?
In a sense, preventing and controlling angiogenesis imbalance is the same as preventing and controlling a range of diseases, including cancer. Scientists believe that using a combination of compounds to interfere with angiogenesis to prevent cancer is a feasible and promising approach to fight cancer.
Mother Nature’s love for humans is also reflected in the nutrients she puts into our food. Our everyday ingredients are rich in several potent anti-angiogenic factors. Ingesting these natural angiogenesis inhibitors through diet is very convenient and easy. And more importantly, they do not have the side effects of drugs, making them suitable for most of us.
Quercetin: Quercetin is from the flavonoid family of polyphenols and is found in some fruits and vegetables such as onions, broccoli, apples and berries, as well as in olive oil, grapes, and tea. Quercetin affects endothelial (thin membrane lining heart and blood vessels) cell proliferation, migration, and angiogenesis. As an anti-angiogenic compound, it has been shown to have a targeted effect on tumour angiogenesis in both in vitro and in vivo experiments. It has also been demonstrated in animal experiments that quercetin can reduce angiogenesis.
A clinical trial based on quercetin as a dietary supplement to treat skin cancer is currently underway. Its results are expected to be announced in 2023.
Myricetin: Myricetin is also a flavonol found in many plants including onions, berries, and herbs. The biological activities of myricetin include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumour effects. It is also an angiogenesis inhibitor, and its effects have been demonstrated in different types of cancer.
Some scientists treated human ovarian cancer cells with different concentrations of myricetin, and then carried out tissue culture and observation. They found that myricetin could effectively block the angiogenesis induced by ovarian cancer cells.
After treating the skin of lab rats with myricetin, and then performing multiple days of ultraviolet light experiments, scientists found that myricetin could significantly inhibit the formation of new blood vessels induced by ultraviolet light in the rat skin.
In addition, in the flavonoid family of polyphenols, scientists are also focusing on two flavonols: kaempferol and fisetin. These two substances, which are found in vegetables, fruits, teas, and herbs, also exhibit properties related to cancer chemoprevention and are potent angiogenesis inhibitors.
Genistein: In the isoflavone family of polyphenols, genistein is a representative substance. It is one of the main isoflavones of soybean. Genistein has been proven to inhibit the growth of different types of cancer in vitro and in vivo, and anti-angiogenesis is one of its many anti-cancer properties.
Genistein combined with arsenic trioxide can effectively inhibit the angiogenesis and development of human liver malignant tumours.
In a clinical trial published in 2019 in the journal Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, a combination of chemotherapy with the use of genistein and another chemical, and anti-angiogenic therapy, showed promising results in treating metastatic colorectal cancer.
Green tea polyphenols: Regular consumption of green tea can reduce the risk of certain cancers. Green tea polyphenols have chemopreventive and anti-angiogenic properties, and the catechins in green tea polyphenols show very strong anti-angiogenic properties.
Some researchers implanted vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF) into some lab mice. One group of mice then drank plain water, while the other group drank water with catechins added. The results showed that compared with the mice in the water drinking group, the induced corneal neovascularization was significantly inhibited in the corneas of the mice in the tea drinking group, and the area of neovascularization was inhibited by 35% to 70%.
Hydroxytyrosol: Hydroxytyrosol is a phenolic compound present in virgin olive oil and one of the main active components of virgin olive oil. It is a natural angiogenesis inhibitor. Animal experiments have shown that hydroxytyrosol could practically inhibit and disrupt angiogenesis outside the cells.
Terpenes are present in many fruits and vegetables, and their representative anticancer components are ursolic acid and cafestol.
Ursolic acid: Ursolic acid is present in the leaves of several edible spice plants, including rosemary, lemon balm, verbena, oregano, and sage. Some fruits, such as apples and cranberries, also contain ursolic acid.
Ursolic acid has a variety of biological activities, and its anti-angiogenic properties have also been demonstrated. It can inhibit the angiogenesis of human umbilical vein endothelial cells, and its inhibitory effect is enhanced with the increase of ursolic acid concentration.
Cafestol and kahweol: Cafestol and kahweol, found in coffee beans and unfiltered coffee, have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Experiments have also shown that cafestol can interfere with the formation of extracellular blood vessels of umbilical vein endothelial cells, and its efficacy became stronger with the increase of cafestol concentration. In view of the high consumption of coffee beans in the world, their anti-cancer function is well perceived.
Emodin: Emodin is an anthraquinone that exists naturally in rhubarb. It has shown anticancer activity against different types of human cancer cells in many in vitro and in vivo experiments.
Some researchers in Japan treated umbilical vein endothelial cells with emodin. The tissue culture results showed that in comparison with the control group, emodin had significantly inhibited angiogenesis outside these cells, and its inhibitory effect was enhanced with increasing emodin concentration.
Aloe-emodin: It is also an anthraquinone existing in aloe vera leaves. Aloe-emodin has also shown to have anti-angiogenic potential.
These natural angiogenesis inhibitors are among our readily available ingredients. Regular consumption of these foods helps cut off the nutrient supply to cancer cells and “starve” them to death before they have a chance to develop into tumours.