Angiogenesis and Cancer Prevention

Angiogenesis is the natural process of blood vessel growth from existing blood vessels. It is a normal function of the body that allows for new blood vessels to be created during normal development and growth and it allows for the expedited healing of wounds (Medical Dictionary). Its role in cancer has more to do with angiogenesis that is out of balance, normally because of environmental factors, which will be covered shortly. When angiogenesis is out of balance it allows for a small cancerous tumor to grow beyond a minuscule size into the tumors easily detected by modern technology (Orchestration of Angiogenesis and Arteriovenous Contribution by Angiopoietins and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor).

Angiogenesis is a fundamental aspect of maintaining homeostasis and a healthy body. Therefore, knowing what factors cause it to fall out of balance and what factors can help keep it in balance are important in preventing disease and establishing a foundation of optimal health.

What factors cause angiogenesis to fall out of balance? It appears the largest factors are those that are under our control. These include cardiovascular workouts and proper nutrition. Environmental stressors of poor diet, chemicals, as well as mental and emotional stresses all drive the body away from the balance required for greater well-being. In fact, 30 - 35% of all cancers are caused by diet and most cancers are caused largely by environmental factors, NOT genetics. The problem with having the body out of balance as concerned with angiogenesis is the number of diseases that may result from excessive vascular growth or with a lack of vascular growth. This can lead to large cancerous tumors, cardiovascular disease, skin disease, and stroke.

What can I do to maintain a better balance and inhibit angiogenesis of cancerous tumors? First and foremost leading a healthy lifestyle is important. Diet and nutrition are just two of the pillars of excellent health, but they are foundational pillars that can have far-reaching effects. Research has been conducted into anti-angiogenesis foods and many have been shown to inhibit angiogenesis. To better understand how this can help someone with cancer one must first understand that the blood vessels formed within a tumor tend to be weak, brittle, and abnormally formed. This means that a diet rich in foods that inhibit angiogenesis will have a greater effect on these brittle blood vessels than it would have on the healthy vessels of normal bodily tissue. To better illustrate the power of small dietary changes let's look at a research study undertaken by 79,000 men over 20 years (Common Ground: A Recipe for Health). The study group ate two to three servings of cooked tomatoes (a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Potassium and high in Lycopene), and showed a remarkable 50% reduction in prostate cancer!

What foods inhibit angiogenesis? Here is a list of foods that have been shown to inhibit angiogenesis to the same level as many drugs, including several statins that have anti-angiogenesis properties. The following is a partial list of anti-angiogenesis foods: red grapes, strawberries, soy beans, green tea (example: dragon pearl jasmine and sencha combined have been shown to have a high potency), black berries, raspberries, blueberries, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, apples, pineapple, cherries, bok choy, kale, ginseng, maitake mushrooms, artichoke, licorice (the root), turmeric, nutmeg, lavender, pumpkin, sea cucumber, tuna, parsley, garlic, tomato, olive oil, grape seed oil, and dark chocolate.

What cancer drugs have been approved by the FDA to treat cancer through the path of inhibiting angiogenesis? Several drugs have been developed, this is only a partial list and only includes those that have been approved by the United States, Food and Drug Administration. Below is a list of drugs by name and the specific area they were designed to focus on.

Avastin - colon, lung, breast, brain, kidney

Erbitux - colon, head, neck

Tarceva - lung, pancreatic

Indostar - lung

Nexavar - kidney, liver

Revlimid - multiple myeloma

Sutent - gist, kidney

Thalomid - multiple myeloma

Torisel - kidney

Affinitor - kidney

Votrient - kidney

1) "Medical Dictionary." What Is Angiogenesis? Find the Definition for Angiogenesis at WebMD. Web. 08 May 2012.

2) "Orchestration of Angiogenesis and Arteriovenous Contribution by Angiopoietins and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF)." Orchestration of Angiogenesis and Arteriovenous Contribution by Angiopoietins and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). Web. 08 May 2012.

3) "Common Ground: A Recipe for Health." Common Ground: A Recipe for Health. Web. 08 May 2012