What You Can Eat to Defeat Cancer

By William W. Li, M.D. President and Medical Director, The Angiogenesis Foundation

Posted on | By William W. Li, M.D.

Dr. Oz and I recently spoke about important new research that is showing that how you select, prepare and consume foods can be a powerful weapon for preventing cancer. The reason for this lies in our capillaries, the thousands of tiny blood vessels present in almost every square millimeter of our bodies.


The growth of new capillary blood vessels is called angiogenesis, a vital process for reproduction and healing. Cancer turns the body against itself by hijacking the angiogenesis process. Just as healthy tissues require oxygen and nutrients, malignant tumors need a blood supply to fuel their growth. But, unlike normal tissues, cancer keeps angiogenesis permanently switched on to ensure that it has a dedicated, uninterrupted blood supply.

Angiogenesis Makes Cancer Dangerous
A major reason cancer is so frustratingly difficult to cure is that by the time it can be detected, it is often very advanced, and like all advanced diseases, much more difficult to treat. In a person with advanced cancer, uncontrolled angiogenesis keeps cancer cells growing and allows them to spread. However, without angiogenesis, cancers can’t grow and become dangerous. This is why the microscopic cancers that form in our bodies all the time are mostly harmless. These cancers aren’t even visible on a standard X-ray or body scan. So, to effectively prevent cancer, angiogenesis needs to be brought under control before the tumor can get a foothold. This is where your everyday diet comes into play 

Foods That Fight Cancer
Anti-angiogenesis, the starving of cancers by cutting off its blood supply, now a proven cancer-fighting strategy in cancer clinics supported by a growing body of scientific research, is migrating to the grocery store and farmer’s market. Many healthy foods contain bioactive compounds – specific substances that affect the body in certain ways, such as lowering blood pressure or cholesterol, or mopping up cancer-promoting free oxygen radicals, or inhibiting angiogenesis. In addition to the foods Dr. Oz and I discussed on the show (airing Friday, September 10, 2010), some other good examples of cancer fighting, anti-angiogenesis foods include:  

  • Green tea
  • Strawberries
  • Soybeans
  • Chocolate
  • Cinnamon

We now know that all fruits and vegetables are not created equal – some are much more potent than others, based on their anti-angiogenesis profiles.

Eat to Defeat: A New Way to Fight Cancer
At the Angiogenesis Foundation, we are launching an ambitious new initiative, called Eat to Defeat Cancer, to help people take advantage of foods that fight cancer. Using published data and the Foundation’s own anti-angiogenesis food research, we are identifying and telling the world about the most potent cancer-fighting foods.  


Our early research has already discovered that specific varieties of fruits, vegetables and teas are especially potent cancer fighters. The goal of Eat to Defeat Cancer is to arm consumers with this knowledge so they can make the best, most healthy food choices for themselves and their families. 

How You Can Eat (and Drink) to Defeat Cancer
Eating to defeat cancer can be accomplished simply by adding a few anti-angiogenic foods to your meals each day, like those listed above. Like life itself, one’s diet is all about making choices. Since we all eat every day, why not choose foods that can reduce your risk of disease? Listed below are some food facts, supported by scientific research, to help you get the most cancer fighting benefits from your diet. 

  • Be picky. Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples have twice as many cancer fighters as Fuji or Golden Delicious apples. The San Marzano tomato contains more cancer fighters than any other variety. Wine grapes grown in cooler climates have more cancer fighters than grapes grown in warmer climates.
  • Eat Your Sprouts. Broccoli sprouts can contain more cancer-fighting properties than regular broccoli.
  • Dunk Your Teabag. Dunking a tea bag up and down releases more cancer-fighting molecules than letting the bag just sit in the cup.
  • Cook Your Vegetables. Raw tomatoes are good, but cooking them in olive oil is better.
  • Chew Your Greens. Chewing leafy greens helps to release enzymes that activate cancer-fighting molecules embedded deep in the leaves.
  • Go Soy. Fermented soy, like the kind used in miso soup, contains four times more cancer fighters than regular soybeans.
  • Choose one cancer fighting food for each meal. At 3 meals each day, that adds up to more than a thousand of cancer fighting food choices each year.

 To learn more about diet and angiogenesis, and get recipes and food facts you can use today, click here.

Article written by William W. Li, M.D.
President and Medical DirectorThe Angiogenesis Foundation