How your diet can reduce cancer risk

The Sage, Gateshead
The Sage, Gateshead

I was lucky enough to attend the Thinking Digital Conference at The Sage, Gateshead (Across the river from Newcastle upon Tyne) in the UK.

Thinking Digital is all about new ideas, technologies and thinking; the Conference brings delegates and speakers from all over the world. The topics vary widely from developments in 3D Graphics, Managing risk – to playing the Hurdy gurdy! One notable face I enjoyed listening to this year was Conrad Wolfram – who gives an excellent talk about how he sees computation changing the role of expert knowledge in society.

Whilst I wasn’t attending “as a foodie” as I was there for work-related reasons, I was lucky enough to join a very interesting talk from Dr Vincent Li about Angiogenesis.


Angiogenesis is the process by which the human body regulates the number of blood vessels in the body through a natural system of stimulants and inhibitors.

Blood vessels are the building blocks of the human body, and we have billions of them, which are used by our bodies to filter blood, heal wounds, create life and well – just about everything.

Now you will need to bear with me as the topic does become food related, but Dr Li explained that most diseases – including all Cancers, Parkinson’s, and Arthritis – all rely on manipulating the process of Angiogenesis for their own sinister gain.

Dr Li argued – with considerable evidence – that by treating Patient’s with Angiogenesis creams, injections and pills which can reduce or reverses these mutations caused by Angiogenesis he could treat these diseases better than Chemotherapy or Surgery often could.

Now that’s a huge claim there, but as a respected Doctor who seemed willing to provide strong evidence – I really began to take an interest.

I must say that this isn’t a miracle treatment, its not suitable for all diseases and its at the very edge of innovation and these benefits are highly debated – but for me the point where this talk became especially interesting to those of us who appreciate good food and good science was about to come.

Dr Li and his colleagues have indexed countless foodstuffs and have documented which of these contain chemicals that have a positive benefit on Angiogenesis and can play a part in reducing the growth of Cancers quite considerably when absorbed over extended periods of time. 

Nature’s larder does still hold countless undiscovered fascinating and potentially life-saving benefits to the sciences.

How can diet reduce cancer risk
Cooked tomatoes could reduce the risk of some cancers

Foods which can trigger Angiogenesis

So a good example here are cooked tomatoes; long known as key ingredient in the healthy Mediterranean diet – when a portion is eaten three or four times a week.

Evidence seems to indicate they can lower your risk of Lung or Prostate Cancer. More interesting still is that cooked tomatoes offer more of this chemical (Lycopene) than when uncooked, and that the tomatoes have been cooked in Olive Oil the body’s absorption of this Lycopene is almost doubled!

Now I wont labour all the fascinating aspects of this research, but Dr Li is campaigning so that food labels are changed to also provide information about how the food might boost your bodies defence to specific diseases!

Now imagine – and this was his example – being given the choice between a Royal Gala Apple or Golden Delicious – which would you choose?   Now how would knowing that Golden Delicious contains twice the cancer-fighting chemical which might lower your risk of Colon Cancer than the Gala Apple affect your decision?

If you want to delve further in to this topic, please visit which provides much more exhaustive information.

Now that – pardon the pun – really is food for thought.

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