In February, the TED2010 conference featured a series of “big ideas,” ranging from how much money a person needs to make to be happy to how the ukelele can stop wars. One of the ideas featured was from William Li, president and medical director of The Angiogenesis Foundation.
Li’s talk (“Can we eat to starve cancer?”) focuses on how a lot of foods and beverages could help prevent cancer through the substances they offer, which are the same substances in the 11 FDA-approved anti-angiogenesis drugs. (Anti-angiogenesis is a type of targeted therapy, which stops tumors from making new blood vessels, keeping them from growing or causing tumors to shrink.) On the TED blog, they offer a list of some of these foods and beverages.
TED (standing for Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “ideas worth spreading.” And while angiogenesis, and the importance of good nutrition, are ideas definitely worth spreading, we should all be wary of putting too much stock in the research Li shares.
Yes, many of these foods and beverages contain substances that have anti-angiogenesis capabilities. And yes, one day we possibly could “eat to starve cancer.” But a lot of this research is still very preliminary – either observational or they’re animal studies. There has yet to be any substantial research showing these food and beverages are beneficial for humans with cancer.
Plus, we can’t exactly directly compare green tea, berries and dark chocolate to anti-angiogenesis drugs, like Avastin, Nexavar, or Sutent, the way Li does.