Category Archives for "cancer cure"
我們能藉由吃餓死癌症嗎？Can we eat to starve Cancer? By Dr William Li @ TED.COM
(Video with Chinese Subtitle)
下午好。 一场医学革命正发生在我们身边。 这将有助于我们攻克 社会上一些最可怕的疾病， 包括癌症。 这场革命称为血管新生， 它基于 血管在我们人体自然生长的过程。
那我们为什么应该关注血管呢？ 首先，它们充满了我们的身体。 一般成人体内有相当六万英里长的血管。 （如果我们把身体里的血管）接头接尾地连成一条线， 这条线可以绕地球两圈。 最小的血管称为毛细血管。 我们体内有190亿。 这些是生命之脉， 同时，我将展示给你们看， 它们也可以是死亡之脉。 血管不平常的地方 是它们有能力 适应任何生长环境。 比如说，在肝脏内它们形成渠道 来解毒血液。 在肺里，它们包裹着气囊来进行气体交换。 在肌肉里，它们形成螺旋形让肌肉可以伸缩 而不会阻断血液循环。 在神经里，它们沿着（神经）走，就像电线一样， 维持那些神经生存。 实际大多数我们的血管生成时候， 是我们还在子宫里时。 那意味着，作为成人， 血管通常不生长， 除了少数特殊情况。 比如在女性体内，血管每月都会生长 来建立子宫膜。 在怀孕期间，它们形成胎盘， 联系母亲和婴儿。 或者受伤以后，血管 还能在疮痂下生长 来治愈伤口。 这种血管看起来就是这样子的。 成百上千的血管 全都长向伤口中心。
所以任何一个既定时刻，我们的身体都有能力来调节 所需的血管数量。 它是通过一个复杂 而优雅的检测与平衡系统来达到此目的的， 诱导和抑制血管生长的两种因子相互作用。 这样当我们需要急速的血管新生， 人体可以通过释放诱导因子， 多种称为血管生成因子的蛋白质 就像天然肥料一样， 来刺激新血管的生长。 而且当人体不再需要那些多余的血管时， 就会把它们精简至基线水平， 这是通过自然产生抑制血管增生的蛋白质。 在一些情况下我们本来在基线下， 而需要生长更多的血管来达到正常水平。 比如说，受伤以后 人体就可以这样做。 但是只限于达到正常水平， 那个调定点。
但我们现在知道， 对一些疾病， 系统中存在缺陷， 在正确的时间和地点， 人体不能裁减多余的血管， 或是不能长出足够的新血管。 在这些情形下，血管新生 不在平衡状态。 当血管新生不平衡时， 就会导致很多的疾病。 比如，血管新生不足， 没有足够的血管， 会引起伤不能愈合，心脏病发作， 腿部没有血液循环，中风死亡， 神经受损。 而在另一方面，血管增生， 过多的血管也会引发疾病， 像癌症，失明， 关节炎，肥胖， 老人痴呆症。 总共有大约70种主要的疾病 影响了全球十多亿人口， 在表面看起来它们是不同的疾病， 但实际上它们都关系到 不正常的血管生长。 这是它们的共性。 这个认识让我们 重新思考 我们实际上对付这些疾病的方式， 应该是通过控制血管生长。
现在我将聚焦在癌症上， 因为血管增生是癌症的一个主要标志， 每一种癌症都是这样。 那我们开始。 这是一个肿瘤，灰暗的，恶性的肿块 在大脑里生长。 在显微镜下，你能看到， 成百上千的染成褐色的血管， 毛细血管在饲养这些肿瘤细胞， 给它们带来氧气和营养。 但癌症开始不会这样， 而且事实上，没有血的供给 癌症就不会产生。 它们始于微型的细胞团。 这些细胞团仅能长到 0.5 个立方厘米。 和圆珠笔的尖一个尺寸。 它们不能长得更大是因为他们没有血的供给， 所以没有足够的氧气和养分。
实际上，我们很可能无时无刻不在形成 这种微型的“癌症”。 从死于车祸的人的尸检研究中 发现大约40%的女性 在40至50岁之间 确有微型的 乳腺“肿瘤“。 大约50%的五，六十岁的男性 有微型的前列腺“癌“。 实际上当我们到70多岁的时候， 我们100% 都会有微型的甲状腺“癌症“。 但如果没有足够的供血， 绝大多这种肿瘤 不会有危险。 犹大福克曼医生，也是我的导师 是血管新生领域的先驱。 他一度称这些微型肿瘤为“没有病的癌症“。
所以人体平衡血管生长的能力， 当它正常工作时， 能阻止血管饲养癌症。 这正是我们 一个最重要的 抵抗癌症的防御机制。 实际上，如果你真的阻止血管生长， 防止血管达到癌细胞， 肿瘤就不能生长。 但当血管新生一旦发生， 肿瘤可以指数级的生长。 这正是 一个肿瘤如何从 无害变成致命。 癌细胞通过变异 学会了释放 多种血管生长因子，也就是我们提到的天然肥料， 来引导平衡倾向血管生长， 然后长入肿瘤。 一旦这些血管张入肿瘤， 肿瘤就能扩展，能入侵附近组织。 同时，这些饲养肿瘤的血管 为癌细胞转移，为它们进入血液循环 提供了途径。 不幸的是， 能被诊断出的癌症， 多数是这种晚期的癌症。 这时血管已经开始增生， 癌细胞已经开始疯长。
如果血管增生 是一个转折点 使癌症从无害变到有害， 那么“血管新生的革命“的一个主要部分 就是用此作为一个新的途径， 通过切断血液供给来治疗癌症。 我们称此为“反血管增生疗法“。 它和化疗完全不同 因为它选择性的针对 饲养肿瘤的那些血管。 我们能这么做是因为 肿瘤血管不同于我们在人体其他地方看到的， 正常健康的血管。 它们不正常， 它们结构不良， 正因于此，它们对于 我们的治疗手段特别敏感。 事实上，当我们给癌症病人 反血管增生疗法时 —— 这里是我们的一个针对神经胶质瘤的实验药物， 神经胶质瘤是一种脑癌 —— 你可以看到当肿瘤处于饥饿状态时， 发生了很显著的变化。 这是一个有乳腺癌的女性， 被称为阿瓦斯丁的反血管增生的药物治疗过， 这药是FDA认可的。 你能看到血液流动的光环 在治疗后消失了。
嗯，我刚刚向你们展示了 两种不同的癌症， 反血管增生治疗对它们都有疗效。 所以，几年前，我问我自己， “我们能更进一步么？ 我们能治疗其他动物身上 其他种类的癌症么？“ 这是一个叫做米洛的9岁的拳击狗 它有非常恶性的肿瘤， 称为恶性神经纤维瘤，在它的肩部。 肿瘤还入侵了它肺部。 它的兽医曾说它只有3个月生命。 我们创造了一个反血管增生的多种药物的混合剂， 混入它的食物里， 再加上一种反血管增生的药膏 涂在肿瘤表面。 几个星期疗程之后， 我们可以减缓癌症的增长 最终把米洛的存活时间 延长到兽医开始预期的6倍。 而且此间它享有很好的生活质量。
我们之后治疗了600多只狗。 我们大约有60％的回应率， 也提高了这些宠物的存活率， 原先它们是准备安乐死的。 让我向你们展示几个 更有趣的例子。 这是一只20岁的老年佛罗里达海豚， 在她嘴里有这些病变 经过3年 发展成为扩散性的的舌鳞癌。 我们制造了一种反血管增生的药膏。 我们把它涂在癌症表面， 每周三次。 经过7个月时间， 癌症完全消失， 活检显示正常。
这里是另一个例子，一只叫做吉尼斯的夸特马 在嘴唇上生了癌症。 这是一种非常致命的癌症，称为血管肉瘤。 癌症已经扩散到它的淋巴结， 所以我们用了反血管增生的肤霜在它的嘴唇上， 还给它一种口服的混合药物，来对身体里面 和外面同时治疗。 在6个月的疗程中， 它的病完全消失了。 这是它六年之后， 吉尼斯， 和它幸福的主人。
所以，很明显，反血管增生疗法 可以用于治疗多种癌症。 实际上，具有开创性的第一批治疗， 对人和狗的， 已经投入使用了。 现在有12种不同的药物，针对11种不同的癌症。 但真正的问题是： 这些药实际上表现如何？ 这是实际的患者存活数据 从8中不同的癌症治疗中得到的。 这些数据条代表 仅仅用化疗， 手术，辐射治疗的时候 病人的存活时间。 但从2004年开始， 当开始应用反血管增生疗法之后， 你可以看到 病人的存活率 有70％到100％的提高。 这些数据是针对有肾癌，多发性骨髓瘤， 大肠癌，胃肠道间质瘤的病人的。 这（种成功率）是很惊人的。 但对其他肿瘤和癌症， （反血管增生疗法）改善不大。
我就开始问我自己， “为什么我们不能作得更好？“ 对我而言，答案很明显； 我们治疗癌症太晚。 我们治疗的时候它已经根深蒂固了， 很多时候，它已经扩散或转移了。 作为一名医生，我知道 疾病一旦发展到更高的阶段， 想要治愈很难， 几乎是不可能。 所以我回到 血管新生的生物机理上来， 开始思考： 治疗癌症的答案可不可以是 通过防止血管生长， 将癌症扼杀于摇篮之中， 这样根本不会有危险的癌症？ 这能帮助健康的人们 以及已经治愈了 一，两次癌症的 想找到一种方法防止复发的人们。 为了找到一种防止（饲养）癌症的血管生长的方法， 我回头来看癌症的起因。 让我极感兴趣的是 我看到饮食 占了30到35％ 导致癌症的环境诱因。
所以一个显而易见的想法是 我们可以少吃或不吃什么（来防癌）。 但我却走了完全不同的路， 开始问：“什么是我们可以在饮食里增加的， 什么是天然的抗血管增生的食物， 从而增强人体的防御系统 来击败这些饲养癌症的血管？“ 换句话说，我们可以通过吃来饿死癌症吗？ 答案是肯定的。 我现在将向你们展示如何做到。 为了寻找天然的抗癌食物， 我们来到了农贸市场，农场，和香料市场。 因为我们发现 大自然已经在大量的 食物，饮品和草本植物中加入了 天然的 血管增生的抑制剂。
这是我们发明的一个测试系统。 中心是一个环，从这里成百上千的血管 呈星状生长开。 我们能用这个系统 来测试饮食里的成分（是否抗癌） 用能通过饮食可以获取的浓度。 让我向你们展示当我们放进一种红葡萄的萃取物 发生的事。 这里的活性成分是白藜芦醇。 在红酒中也有。 这个能抑制60%的 不正常的血管增生。 这是当我们加入草莓的萃取物时的现象。 它有效的抑制了血管增生。 还有大豆萃取物。 这是我们一个不断增长的 反血管增生的食品和饮品的列单， 这是我们有兴趣进一步研究的。 每种食物 我们相信不同的品系和品种 有不同的效力。 我们想测量这些是因为， 如果你在吃草莓 或是喝茶， 为什么不选择这些最有效力 来防御癌症的（吃或喝呢）。
这是我们测试过的四种不同的茶。 它们都是普通品种， 中国茉莉，日本参茶， 伯爵茶和一种我们制备的混合物。 你们可以清楚的看到 这些茶在它们效力上有差别 从最没有什么效力的到更有效的。 但很酷的是 当我们把两种 不很有效的茶混合， 这种混合物， 比单个的更有效。 这表明食物有协同作用。
这是我们测试的更多的数据。 我们在实验室里模拟了肿瘤的血管增生， 这里以一个黑条代表。 用这个系统，我们能测试癌症药物的效力。 条越短， 血管增生越少，这是好现象。 这是一些普通药物 它们对减少 人们得癌症的风险都有作用。 他汀类药物， 非甾体抗炎药物 和其他几种， 它们也能抑制血管增生。 这是一些饮食成分 和这些药物互有长短。 你们可以看到，它们有自己的效力， 在某些情况，它们比 实际的药物更有效。 大豆，香菜 ， 大蒜 ， 葡萄， 浆果， 我可以回家煮一顿美食 用这些原料。 想像我们能创造 世界上第一个评分系统。 我们根据 食物的抗血管增生， 抗癌性质来评分。 这是我们现在要做的。
我已经给你们看了大量的研究数据， 真正的问题是： 在人体有什么证据来说明 吃某些食物可以减少 饲养癌症的血管增生？ 恩， 我知道的最好的例子是 一项7万9千位男性， 长达20年的研究， 它发现吃 西红柿每周2到3次的男性 减少了50％的 发生前列腺癌的风险。 现在我们知道西红柿是很好的番茄红素的来源， 而番茄红素是抗血管增生的。 但这项研究更有意思的是 那些有前列腺癌症的男性 如果他们吃更多的番茄酱 他们实际上有更少的血管 来供给肿瘤。 这项研究是关于我们实际消耗的， 实际存在食物中的， 抗血管增生物质能影响癌的 一个最初的例子。 现在我们正在研究 健康饮食的作用。 我们在和德安欧尼斯合作，和加州大学旧金山分校以及塔夫茨大学合作， 来观察健康饮食对 血液里血管增生的标识物的（控制）作用。
显然这里我和你们分享的（信息）有深远的影响， 这种影响甚至超越了对治疗癌症的研究。 我这么说是因为，如果我们是对的，它能影响对消费者的教育， 食品服务，公共健康 甚至保险业。 实际上，一些保险公司 已经开始在往这方面思考了。 看看这个明尼苏达蓝十字蓝盾的广告。 对全球很多人而言， 饮食预防癌症 可能是唯一切实可行的方法， 因为不是每个人都能负担起昂贵的癌症治疗的尖端产品。 但每个人都能从 这种健康饮食的方式中获益，从吃本地生产的，可持续的 抗血管增生的农产品中获益。
现在，最后， 我已经和你们谈到了食物， 谈到了癌症， 就还有一种疾病我必须要告诉你们的， 那就是肥胖。 因为我们发现 脂肪组织，脂， 是很依赖血管增生的。 象肿瘤一样， 当血管增长，脂肪增长。 所以问题是：我们能减少脂肪 通过切除它的血液供给吗？ 上面的曲线显示体重 是一个有肥胖基因的老鼠 不停的吃， 直至它变得象这个毛茸茸的网球一样胖。 下面这个曲线是正常老鼠的体重。
如果你给胖老鼠 一种血管增生的抑制剂，它减重。 停止治疗，重新增重。 重新开始治疗，又减重了。 停止治疗，又重新增重。 实际上，你能使体重循环上下 仅仅通过抑制血管增生。 所以这个我们预防癌症的途径 也可以应用于 治疗肥胖症。 这真正有趣的 我们不能使这些胖老鼠 减少到 比正常老鼠体重少。 用另一种话说，我们不能创造超模老鼠。 （笑声） 这个说明了血管生长的作用 是在健康值附近调节。
阿尔贝 圣捷尔吉一度说过， “科学发现是用看到谁都能看到的， 作到没人能想到的。“ 我希望我已经说服你们 通过攻击一些疾病的共性，血管增生， 对治疗像癌症，肥胖和其他一些情况 可能很有效力。 我认为现在世界正需要这个。谢谢。
吉。科恩 （JC): 这些药物并不是—— 它们不真正是现在癌症治疗的主流。 对这些现在有癌症的人， 你有什么建议？ 你会建议大多数癌症患者现在进行这些治疗吗？
威廉.李：现在有反血管增生的治疗方法 通过食品药品管理局认可的。 如果你是一名癌症患者 或是为某一位工作或支持他们， 你应该调查一下这些治疗方法。 现在有很多临床研究。 血管增生基金会正在跟随近300余公司， 有100多 药物已经在流水线上了。 我们可以考虑已经认可的药物， 还可以调查还在临床研究的药物。 但不光是考虑医生可以为你做什么， 我们也需要开始思考我们自己能为自己做什么。 这是我说的一个主旨， 我们能自己来做这些 医生不能为我们做的， 那是利用知识，采取行动。 如果大自然母亲已经给我们一些启示， 我们认为通过认识到我们饮食的价值， 必有一个新的未来。 我们一天三餐实际上是一天三次化疗。
JC: 对。在这个思路上， 对可能有癌症风险的人来说， 你会推荐使用一些有预防性的治疗 还是仅仅使用正确的饮食？ 比如吃大量的番茄酱？
你知道，市面上有大量的流行病学证据。 我认为在信息时代， 不需费什么劲就能得到可靠的消息来源， 比如pubmed，比如国立医学图书馆， 来察看那些饮食和普通的医药 对减低癌症风险的 流行病学研究。 那是一些每个人都能察看的。
JC: 好。 恩，多谢你了。
Can we starve Cancer cells? By Dr William Li @ TED.COM
Good afternoon. There’s a medical revolution happening all around us, and it’s one that’s going to help us conquer some of society’s most dreaded conditions, including cancer. The revolution is called angiogenesis, and it’s based on the process that our bodies use to grow blood vessels.
So why should we care about blood vessels? Well, the human body is literally packed with them — 60,000 miles worth in a typical adult. End to end, that would form a line that would circle the earth twice. The smallest blood vessels are called capillaries. We’ve got 19 billion of them in our bodies. And these are the vessels of life, and as I’ll show you, they can also be the vessels of death. Now, the remarkable thing about blood vessels is that they have this ability to adapt to whatever environment they’re growing in. For example, in the liver, they form channels to detoxify the blood; in the lungs, they line air sacs for gas exchange. In muscle, they corkscrew, so that muscles can contract without cutting off circulation. And in nerves, they course along like power lines, keeping those nerves alive.
We get most of these blood vessels when we’re actually still in the womb. And what that means is that as adults, blood vessels don’t normally grow. Except in a few special circumstances. In women, blood vessels grow every month, to build the lining of the uterus. During pregnancy, they form the placenta, which connects mom and baby. And after injury, blood vessels actually have to grow under the scab in order to heal a wound. And this is actually what it looks like, hundreds of blood vessels, all growing toward the center of the wound.
So the body has the ability to regulate the amount of blood vessels that are present at any given time. It does this through an elaborate and elegant system of checks and balances, stimulators and inhibitors of angiogenesis, such that, when we need a brief burst of blood vessels, the body can do this by releasing stimulators, proteins called angiogenic factors, that act as natural fertilizer, and stimulate new blood vessels to sprout. When those excess vessels are no longer needed, the body prunes them back to baseline, using naturally-occurring inhibitors of angiogenesis. There are other situations where we start beneath the baseline, and we need to grow more blood vessels, just to get back to normal levels — for example, after an injury — and the body can do that too, but only to that normal level, that set point.
But what we now know, is that for a number of diseases, there are defects in the system, where the body can’t prune back extra blood vessels, or can’t grow enough new ones in the right place at the right time. And in these situations, angiogenesis is out of balance. And when angiogenesis is out of balance, a myriad of diseases result. For example, insufficient angiogenesis — not enough blood vessels — leads to wounds that don’t heal, heart attacks, legs without circulation, death from stroke, nerve damage. And on the other end, excessive angiogenesis — too many blood vessels — drives disease, and we see this in cancer, blindness, arthritis, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease. In total, there are more than 70 major diseases affecting more than a billion people worldwide, that all look on the surface to be different from one another, but all actually share abnormal angiogenesis as their common denominator. And this realization is allowing us to re-conceptualize the way that we actually approach these diseases, by controlling angiogenesis.
Now, I’m going to focus on cancer, because angiogenesis is a hallmark of cancer — every type of cancer. So here we go. This is a tumor: dark, gray, ominous mass growing inside a brain. And under the microscope, you can see hundreds of these brown-stained blood vessels, capillaries that are feeding cancer cells, bringing oxygen and nutrients. But cancers don’t start out like this, and in fact, cancers don’t start out with a blood supply. They start out as small, microscopic nests of cells, that can only grow to one half a cubic millimeter in size. That’s the tip of a ballpoint pen. Then they can’t get any larger because they don’t have a blood supply, so they don’t have enough oxygen or nutrients.
In fact, we’re probably forming these microscopic cancers all the time in our body. Autopsy studies from people who died in car accidents have shown that about 40 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 50 actually have microscopic cancers in their breasts. About 50 percent of men in their 50s and 60s have microscopic prostate cancers, and virtually 100 percent of us, by the time we reach our 70s, will have microscopic cancers growing in our thyroid. Yet, without a blood supply, most of these cancers will never become dangerous. Dr. Judah Folkman, who was my mentor and who was the pioneer of the angiogenesis field, once called this “cancer without disease.”
So the body’s ability to balance angiogenesis, when it’s working properly, prevents blood vessels from feeding cancers. And this turns out to be one of our most important defense mechanisms against cancer. In fact, if you actually block angiogenesis and prevent blood vessels from ever reaching cancer cells, tumors simply can’t grow up. But once angiogenesis occurs, cancers can grow exponentially. And this is actually how a cancer goes from being harmless, to being deadly. Cancer cells mutate, and they gain the ability to release lots of those angiogenic factors, natural fertilizer, that tip the balance in favor of blood vessels invading the cancer. And once those vessels invade the cancer, it can expand, it can invade local tissues, and the same vessels that are feeding tumors allow cancer cells to exit into the circulation as metastases. And unfortunately, this late stage of cancer is the one at which it’s most likely to be diagnosed, when angiogenesis is already turned on, and cancer cells are growing like wild.
So, if angiogenesis is a tipping point between a harmless cancer and a harmful one, then one major part of the angiogenesis revolution is a new approach to treating cancer by cutting off the blood supply. We call this antiangiogenic therapy, and it’s completely different from chemotherapy, because it selectively aims at the blood vessels that are feeding the cancers. We can do this because tumor blood vessels are unlike normal, healthy vessels we see in other places of the body — they’re abnormal, they’re very poorly constructed, and because of that, they’re highly vulnerable to treatments that target them. In effect, when we give cancer patients antiangiogenic therapy — here, an experimental drug for a glioma, which is a type of brain tumor — you can see that there are dramatic changes that occur when the tumor is being starved. Here’s a woman with a breast cancer, being treated with the antiangiogenic drug called Avastin, which is FDA approved. And you can see that the halo of blood flow disappears after treatment.
Well, I’ve just shown you two very different types of cancer that both responded to antiangiogenic therapy. So a few years ago, I asked myself, “Can we take this one step further and treat other cancers, even in other species?” So here is a nine year-old boxer named Milo, who had a very aggressive tumor called a malignant neurofibroma growing on his shoulder. It invaded into his lungs. His veterinarian only gave him three months to live. So we created a cocktail of antiangiogenic drugs that could be mixed into his dog food, as well as an antiangiogenic cream, that could be applied on the surface of the tumor. And within a few weeks of treatment, we were able to slow down that cancer’s growth, such that we were ultimately able to extend Milo’s survival to six times what the veterinarian had initially predicted, all with a very good quality of life. And we’ve subsequently treated more than 600 dogs. We have about a 60 percent response rate, and improved survival for these pets that were about to be euthanized.
So let me show you a couple of even more interesting examples. This is 20-year-old dolphin living in Florida, and she had these lesions in her mouth that, over the course of three years, developed into invasive squamous cell cancers. So we created an antiangiogenic paste. We had it painted on top of the cancer three times a week. And over the course of seven months, the cancers completely disappeared, and the biopsies came back as normal.
Here’s a cancer growing on the lip of a Quarter Horse named Guinness. It’s a very, very deadly type of cancer called an angiosarcoma. It had already spread to his lymph nodes, so we used an antiangiogenic skin cream for the lip, and the oral cocktail, so we could treat from the inside as well as the outside. And over the course of six months, he experienced a complete remission. And here he is six years later, Guinness, with his very happy owner.
Now obviously, antiangiogenic therapy could be used for a wide range of cancers. And in fact, the first pioneering treatments for people as well as dogs, are already becoming available. There are 12 different drugs, 11 different cancer types. But the real question is: How well do these work in practice? So here’s actually the patient survival data from eight different types of cancer. The bars represent survival time taken from the era in which there was only chemotherapy, or surgery, or radiation available. But starting in 2004, when antiangiogenic therapies first became available, you can see that there has been a 70 to 100 percent improvement in survival for people with kidney cancer, multiple myeloma, colorectal cancer, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. That’s impressive. But for other tumors and cancer types, the improvements have only been modest.
So I started asking myself, “Why haven’t we been able to do better?” And the answer, to me, is obvious: we’re treating cancer too late in the game, when it’s already established, and oftentimes, it’s already spread or metastasized. And as a doctor, I know that once a disease progresses to an advanced stage, achieving a cure can be difficult, if not impossible. So I went back to the biology of angiogenesis, and started thinking: Could the answer to cancer be preventing angiogenesis, beating cancer at its own game, so the cancers could never become dangerous? This could help healthy people, as well as people who’ve already beaten cancer once or twice, and want to find a way to keep it from coming back.
So to look for a way to prevent angiogenesis in cancer, I went back to look at cancer’s causes. And what really intrigued me, was when I saw that diet accounts for 30 to 35 percent of environmentally-caused cancers. Now the obvious thing is to think about what we could remove from our diet, what to strip out, take away. But I actually took a completely opposite approach, and began asking: What could we be adding to our diet that’s naturally antiangiogenic, and that could boost the body’s defense system, and beat back those blood vessels that are feeding cancers? In other words, can we eat to starve cancer?
Well, the answer is yes, and I’m going to show you how. And our search for this has taken us to the market, the farm and to the spice cabinet, because what we’ve discovered is that Mother Nature has laced a large number of foods and beverages and herbs with naturally-occurring inhibitors of angiogenesis.
Here’s a test system we developed. At the center is a ring from which hundreds of blood vessels are growing out in a starburst fashion. And we can use this system to test dietary factors at concentrations that are obtainable by eating. Let me show you what happens when we put in an extract from red grapes. The active ingredient is resveratrol, it’s also found in red wine. This inhibits abnormal angiogenesis, by 60 percent. Here’s what happens when we added an extract from strawberries. It potently inhibits angiogenesis. And extract from soybeans. And here is a growing list of antiangiogenic foods and beverages that we’re interested in studying. For each food type, we believe that there are different potencies within different strains and varietals. And we want to measure this because, well, while you’re eating a strawberry or drinking tea, why not select the one that’s most potent for preventing cancer?
So here are four different teas that we’ve tested. They’re all common ones: Chinese jasmine, Japanese sencha, Earl Grey and a special blend that we prepared, and you can see clearly that the teas vary in their potency, from less potent to more potent. But what’s very cool is when we combine the two less potent teas together, the combination, the blend, is more potent than either one alone. This means there’s food synergy.
Here’s some more data from our testing. Now in the lab, we can simulate tumor angiogenesis, represented here in a black bar. And using this system, we can test the potency of cancer drugs. So the shorter the bar, the less angiogenesis — that’s good. And here are some common drugs that have been associated with reducing the risk of cancer in people. Statins, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and a few others — they inhibit angiogenesis, too. And here are the dietary factors going head-to-head against these drugs. You can see they clearly hold their own, and in some cases, they’re more potent than the actual drugs. Soy, parsley, garlic, grapes, berries. I could go home and cook a tasty meal using these ingredients. Imagine if we could create the world’s first rating system, in which we could score foods according to their antiangiogenic, cancer-preventative properties. And that’s what we’re doing right now.
Now, I’ve shown you a bunch of lab data, and so the real question is: What is the evidence in people that eating certain foods can reduce angiogenesis in cancer? Well, the best example I know is a study of 79,000 men followed over 20 years, in which it was found that men who consumed cooked tomatoes two to three times a week, had up to a 50 percent reduction in their risk of developing prostate cancer. Now, we know that tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, and lycopene is antiangiogenic. But what’s even more interesting from this study, is that in those men who did develop prostate cancer, those who ate more servings of tomato sauce, actually had fewer blood vessels feeding their cancer. So this human study is a prime example of how antiangiogenic substances present in food and consumed at practical levels, can have an impact on cancer. And we’re now studying the role of a healthy diet — with Dean Ornish at UCSF and Tufts University — the role of this healthy diet on markers of angiogenesis that we can find in the bloodstream.
Obviously, what I’ve shared with you has some far-ranging implications, even beyond cancer research. Because if we’re right, it could impact consumer education, food services, public health and even the insurance industry. And in fact, some insurance companies are already beginning to think along these lines. Check out this ad from BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota. For many people around the world, dietary cancer prevention may be the only practical solution, because not everybody can afford expensive end-stage cancer treatments, but everybody could benefit from a healthy diet based on local, sustainable, antiangiogenic crops.
Now, finally, I’ve talked to you about food, and I’ve talked to you about cancer, so there’s just one more disease that I have to tell you about, and that’s obesity. Because it turns out that adipose tissue — fat — is highly angiogenesis-dependent. And like a tumor, fat grows when blood vessels grow. So the question is: Can we shrink fat by cutting off its blood supply? The top curve shows the body weight of a genetically obese mouse that eats nonstop until it turns fat, like this furry tennis ball.
And the bottom curve is the weight of a normal mouse.
If you take the obese mouse and give it an angiogenesis inhibitor, it loses weight. Stop the treatment, gains the weight back. Restart the treatment, loses the weight. Stop the treatment, it gains the weight back. And, in fact, you can cycle the weight up and down simply by inhibiting angiogenesis. So this approach that we’re taking for cancer prevention may also have an application for obesity. The truly interesting thing about this is that we can’t take these obese mice and make them lose more weight than what the normal mouse’s weight is supposed to be. In other words, we can’t create supermodel mice.
And this speaks to the role of angiogenesis in regulating healthy set points.
Albert Szent-Györgi once said, “Discovery consists of seeing what everyone has seen, and thinking what no one has thought.”
I hope I’ve convinced you that for diseases like cancer, obesity and other conditions, there may be a great power in attacking their common denominator: angiogenesis. And that’s what I think the world needs now.
June Cohen: I have a quick question for you.
JC: So these drugs aren’t exactly in mainstream cancer treatments right now. For anyone out here who has cancer, what would you recommend? Do you recommend pursuing these treatments now, for most cancer patients?
William Li: There are antiangiogenic treatments that are FDA approved, and if you’re a cancer patient, or working for one or advocating for one, you should ask about them. And there are many clinical trials. The Angiogenesis Foundation is following almost 300 companies, and there are about 100 more drugs in that pipeline. So, consider the approved ones, look for clinical trials, but then between what the doctor can do for you, we need to start asking what can we do for ourselves. This is one of the themes I’m talking about: We can empower ourselves to do the things that doctors can’t do for us, which is to use knowledge and take action. And if Mother Nature has given us some clues, we think there might be a new future in the value of how we eat, and what we eat is really our chemotherapy three times a day.
JC: Right. And along those lines, for people who might have risk factors for cancer, would you recommend pursuing any treatments prophylactically, or simply pursuing the right diet, with lots of tomato sauce?
WL: Well, you know, there’s abundant epidemiological evidence, and I think in the information age, it doesn’t take long to go to a credible source like PubMed, the National Library of Medicine, to look for epidemiological studies for cancer risk reduction based on diet and based on common medications. And that’s certainly something that anybody can look into.
JC: Okay. Well, thank you so much.
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