Angiogenesis And Cancer

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

Angiogenesis means growth of new blood vessels. In healthy people angiogenesis is finely regulated where blood vessels growth is limited when not further required. If the process of angiogenesis goes out of control, as in cancer growths, the growths tend to be well fed and therapy may not work.

We are supposed to harbour cancer cells in small numbers during our healthy lifetime. Inherent immune system generally retards multiplication of these abnormal cells. With increased angiogenesis these abnormal cells may start multiplying and spreading the growth from a dormant state. Cancer cells seem to produce chemicals that initiate angiogenesis to feed themselves.

With chemotherapy angiogenesis is prevented by chemically destroying the cancer growth. Researchers have developed some drugs that can help to shrink tumour growths by inhibiting angiogenesis. More research work may be needed to fine tune these projects.

Scientists like Dr William Li, a researcher who heads the Angiogenesis Foundation in Cambridge, Massachusetts, are looking at the power of certain foods to block angiogenesis.
These foods include fruits like apples, oranges, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries; vegetables like kale, bokchoy, tomatoes, artichokes, pumpkins and maitake mushrooms; legumes like soybeans; spices and herbs like turmeric, nutmeg, garlic and parsley; fish such as tuna; and finally red wine and chocolate.

One could explain why there is an increase of cancer among the people who eat less fruits and vegetables intake, and eat burghers and fries containing too much fat and chemicals in such foods. Cancer can be prevented by eating more healthy natural foods.

In 2004, Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer was published in the journal Public Health Nutrition. Two of the authors, Timothy Key and Naomi Allen, have been involved in many of the above studies. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health also co-authored this paper which reviews what is currently known about diet and cancer. They summarise their findings based on levels of evidence:

Convincing Evidence
• Physical activity lowers the risk of colon, and breast cancers.
• Being overweight increases the risk of esophagus, colorectal, endometrium, and kidney cancer. It also increases the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
• Alcohol increases the risk of oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, and breast cancers.
• Aflatoxin is a mold that contaminates some foods, especially in underdeveloped countries; it increases liver cancer in areas rampant with the hepatitis virus.
• Chinese-style salted fish increases risk of nasopharynx cancer.
• Salt preserved foods and salt increase the risk for stomach cancer. Up to 35 per cent of cancers may be caused by poor diet, and cancer risk is also much higher among people who are obese.

Eating meat
Meat has been suspected of influencing the risk for several types of cancer. For example, in the systematic review by the WCRF/AICR (World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research), an expert panel concluded that both red and processed meat are convincing causes of colorectal cancer, and that there was some evidence suggesting that high intakes of red or processed meat increased the risk for cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, lung, endometrium and prostate. Most studies have shown that stomach cancer is very low among the vegetarians. Processed meat may increase the risk of stomach cancer, perhaps due to presence of N-nitroso compounds. Therefore, it is plausible that a meat-free diet could be associated with a reduction in the risk for stomach cancer. There is also some evidence that a high intake of fruit and vegetables might reduce the risk for stomach cancer.

It is also true that red meat gets bad press because of the way it is cooked and because of farming methods involving growth-promoting hormones. Organic, lean red meat is really good for you – it's a whole food, it's high in iron, high in zinc and high in the compound CoQ10, which is a crucial source of energy and it reduces the risk of cholesterol.

Eating Fish
The incidence of all malignant neoplasms combined may be lower among both fish eaters and vegetarians than among meat eaters. It has been reported that the incidence of cancer of the lymphatic and haematopoietic tissues were the lowest among vegetarians.

Some food tends to cool your body and prevent angiogenesis. Such foods are as mentioned before, vegetables, most fruits, and fish. Meat increases acidity in the body and is inflammatory. That could be the reason why the incidence of cancer is much higher among meat eaters. Fish on the other hand is an anti-inflammatory food. It is observed that cancer among people consuming fish have less of cancer.

Fruits including yogurt, and curd are anti-inflammatory foods. Eating yogurt daily inhibits excessive angiogenesis in the body.

According to the ayurvedic teaching foods that cause inflammation are referred to as "giniyam" foods. Giniyam is a Sinhalese word referred to heat developing in the body.

They also refer to anti-inflammatory foods as "cooling or seethala" foods. They knew (ayurvedic physicians) it long before western medical researchers discovered it.

So, consume more "seethala" foods for longevity and prevention of cancer.

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