Dr. Li’s TED Talk: “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?”

By Nancy Smorch

This is such an amazing video supporting food as medicine from a medical perspective and a research perspective, and I wanted to make sure everyone reading the blog had a chance to see it!

Dr. Li, in his TED Talk, “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?” talks about angiogenesis - the process of forming new blood vessels - and its relationship, not only to cancer, but to a number of other diseases.  He then goes into research he has been doing on anti-angiogenic drugs, and more importantly, food.

The overview is that cancer cells cannot survive without nutrients and oxygen delivered from blood vessels.  When blood vessels increase around cancerous cells, they thrive and multiply.  So he researched which foods have anti-angiogenic properties; these foods actually decrease the blood vessels around the cancerous area.

There are new drugs that have been developed and FDA approved that are target-specific, and have properties that stop the growth and development of blood vessels where cancerous cells and tissue are located.  Dr. Li wanted to go a step further and look at food with these similar properties.  What he found was a whole list of foods that have anti-angiogenic properties - foods such as tomatoes, green tea, red grapes, garlic, strawberries, dark chocolate, and many more.

These foods ran “head to head” with the drugs and proved to have similar results.

He also talks about these foods in terms of preventing cancer growth in the first place.  He refers to eating 3 meals a day as (basically) your natural chemotherapy treatments.

What I loved most is how he encouraged people to become empowered, and not wait to see the doctors can do for you but to start now, and eat the right kinds of foods, grown locally and sustainably.  These foods not only keep cancer at bay, but also a number of other degenerative diseases whose development and “survival” rely on the oxygen and nutrients that the blood vessels deliver.

I am so grateful for his work, and for doing such an excellent job of explaining it, in this TED Talk.  Please take the time to watch it and share it with everyone in your life!

ALSO, please check out the site Eat to Beat.  It’s a pretty cool site with a ton of resources, recipes, research, and evidence that supports the anti-angiogenic properties of food.


For example, you can click on one of the pages and it has a rather large list of foods with such properties,and when you click on a specific picture of that food, it gives you some background on it, what to look for, the specific anti-angiogenic molecules, how to use it, and a bunch of other cool stuff!

I just discovered this website today and it has jumped to the top of my list of sites I refer to for food and health - you MUST check this out too!