Can we eat to starve cancer? – William Li

A few years ago, I gave an educational TED Talk on the subject of angiogenesis that posed the question: “Can we eat to starve cancer?” The answer to that question was “yes”, and my scientific explanation of how we can do that has since attracted over 11 million views.

But what is angiogenesis and what does it have to do with starving cancer?

Angiogenesis is the process our bodies use to grow and maintain blood vessels. In ordinary circumstances, blood vessels are supporters of life, delivering oxygen and vital nutrients to all of our organs. But when abnormal blood vessels grow, they can nourish microscopic cancers. A healthy angiogenesis system regulates when and where blood vessels should grow and can prevent tumors from recruiting a private blood supply for the oxygen they need to expand. When the body loses this ability to control blood vessels, a wide range of diseases can occur, including cancer.

As long as the angiogenesis system operates properly, blood vessels grow in the right place at the right time—not too many, not too few, but just the right amount. Keeping this perfect balance in the circulatory system is at the heart of how angiogenesis defends health by keeping us in a state called homeostasis. Homeostasis is defined as maintaining stability in the body for normal function while adjusting to constantly changing conditions. Angiogenesis plays a vital role by creating and maintaining your entire circulatory system and adapting it to various situations over the course of our lives to protect our health.

Because of this powerful health defense system that naturally cuts off the blood supply to tumors, cancer doesn’t have to be a disease.