A newish fight against cancer

16 Jan

When we were in Taiwan, Colin and I watched TED Talks multiple times a week. They’re often quite fascinating, and the site has a neat search option that not only lets you search by topic, but also allows you to narrow results to only the funny ones, or only those that many viewers found inspiring, or those which are the most informative.

A contact of Colin’s recently forwarded a TED Talk by William Li, the head of the Angiogenesis Foundation, titled “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?” The first half of the talk explains angiogenesis, which is the growth of blood vessels, and how it can affect different diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and cancer.

Dr. Li explains that we’re born with pretty much all the blood vessels we’re going to need throughout life. There are exceptions to that, though. Our body knows when we’ve been wounded and need to re-grow damaged vessels; women grow new blood vessels every month in their uterus; and sometimes a cancerous tumor can trick our body into thinking new blood vessels need to be grown, turning a harmless, ballpoint-pen-tip-sized tumor into something to really worry about.

There are several different anti-angiogenesis drugs on the market that inhibit the growth of new blood vessels, slowing or stopping the growth of the tumors. Dr. Li has a chart about midway through the presentation that compares those drugs with a couple dozen foods, oils, and spices that are also anti-angiogenesis. The foods do surprisingly well. He suggests, with some Harvard research to back him up, that by incorporating these foods into our diets, we can better fight against cancer by stopping blood from getting to the tumors, essentially starving the cancer.

My goal is to incorporate more of the foods on this list into our diet more often than I do now. Some of them are easy: olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, red wine—check, check, check, and check. We really got our fill of ginger, bok choy, and green tea last year in Taiwan, but it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a bag of ginger chews to keep in the pantry. I’ve got an artichoke in the fridge (is that where I’m supposed to keep that?) and a bag full of tumeric on the spice shelf (I’ll explain later…), and I will seek out, try, and post about any recipes that use one or more of these ingredients.

Have any dishes I should start with? Any shortcuts like the ginger chews?

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