Bero stands in a field of kale, one of the top foods on the
anti-angiogenic food list.
Kathy Bero of
Oconomowoc was on a mission to live. Being diagnosed with three
aggressive cancers simultaneously wasn’t going to stop her. She
found her salvation in food, and has quietly started a movement in
Pewaukee to aid in combating cancer.
diagnosed in October 2005 with Stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer,
infiltrating ductal carcinoma and a high-grade tumor in her head. Her
outlook was grim, but Bero was determined to face her disease head on.
Larry Mullen, was likewise determined and learned about a new
chemotherapy called Avastein. The drug was being used for other
cancers, but not for breast cancer. She convinced her doctor to
include it in her chemo regimen and began undergoing four different
the harmful growth of new blood cells, a process called angiogenesis.
Inflammation triggers angiogenesis, and in healthy bodies should only
occur to heal wounds, during pregnancy or during a woman’s menstrual
cycle. There are more than 70 diseases that depend on angiogenesis to
thrive in our bodies: cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s,
diabetes, heart disease, macular degeneration and multiple sclerosis
research Mullen discovered anti-angiogenic foods and how they were
helping cancer patients. Bero picked up the book, "Anticancer: A
New Way of Life" by David Servan-Schreiber. "Science was
finding that people who have reoccurring cancer, may be able to get
rid of the cancer cells, but the cancer stem cells remained,"
Bero says. Anti-angiogenic foods take away the blood source so the
stem cells start dying, she explains. "The unhealthy growth of
blood vessels gets blocked," she says.
Research in food
as medicine is still limited and has so far concentrated mainly on the
healthy effects of fruit and vegetables when it comes to studying
angiogenesis. Meat, seafood and grains have not been apart of the
studies at this point.
Dr. Gary Stoner,
professor in the department of medicine at the Medical College of
Wisconsin, has been working with berries in studying how compounds in
fruit can help ward off disease. "The anti-angiogenic food stuffs
is certainly one of the factors that inhibits the growth of tumor
development by reducing the growth rate of premalignant and malignant
cells," Stoner says.
There are four
benefits of eating anti-angiogenic foods, according to Stoner:
• They can
help reduce growth of premalignant cells.
• They can
stimulate premalignant cells to die.
• They reduce
• They can
inhibit harmful angiogensis by preventing abnormal new blood vessel
growth, which feeds on cancer cells.
2008, Bero traded in all her medication for food. "For three
years I only ate anti-angiogenic food. After five years (from her
original diagnosis), my oncologist said, ‘You’re clean.’"
Her doctors scratched their heads and couldn’t figure it out. She
credits the food for keeping her in remission. "If you want to
prevent this disease, your best defense is this food," Bero says.
Some of the anti-angiogenic vegetables Bero ate included kale, red
beets, carrots, nicola and purple potatoes. Fruit was also a main part
of her diet, including a variety of berries — black raspberries,
blueberries, blackberries and red tart cherries. For a more extensive
list of anti-angiogenic foods visit the NuGenesis website.
stuffs act in many different ways," Stoner says. For example,
fruit and vegetables have cancer-preventing properties. The National
Cancer Institute claims that eating four to six helpings of fruit and
vegetables a day could reduce cancer from occurring by up to 30
percent, Stoner says. "We have identified more than 1,000
compounds that are cancer preventive," he says.
encouraging cancer patients to abandon medical treatment, but supports
incorporating these anti-angiogenic foods into a daily meal plan.
"For me, it’s not just food or treatment, but a marriage
between the two."
with Bero and stresses that anti-angiogenic foods are not to be
thought of as a replacement for cancer treatment because the food
alone will not kill cancer cells.
As far as
stopping cancer from recurring, Stoner says there is not enough data
collected to offer proof. "Rigorous studies haven’t been done,
but there is a lot of evidence in cases like Kathy’s where people
have eaten these foods and are still alive," Stoner says.
Bero began her
crusade to promote healthy eating first with her physicians and then
with her friend, Ford Titus, who is the retired CEO of ProHealth Care.
He believed in her cause and in 2010 got ProHealth Care and other
major entities to aid in starting NuGenesis Farm in Pewaukee.
Davies, a surgeon at Waukesha Surgical Specialists, joined the
NuGenesis board. "I think it (NuGenesis) has a nice fit in the
community to encourage healthy eating," Davies says. "All of
these foods are a good adjunct to chemotherapy. A healthy diet,
exercise and maintaining weight control does improve the outcome for
some cancer patients," Davies says.
In order to know
how to prepare, store and eat the food properly, NuGenesis Farm hosts
cooking classes for people to learn how to maintain the highest
nutritional value in their meals. For example, Bero explains you can’t
replace the food with a supplement, because the processing removes
part of the healing effects. Eating whole foods is the key, the more
organic the better, but not completely necessary. "These foods
have many substances that are cancer-preventive, but if you prepare
them wrong, you lose some of the good protective compounds in the
food. That is why it’s good to learn how to prepare it," says
Stoner, who is also on the NuGenesis board. Fresh and raw is the best;
using heat to cook the food can destroy the activity needed to combat
disease. "Most fruits and vegetables are best raw in order to
maintain the most effective compounds," he says.
are now showing a synergy between certain foods and cancer
treatment," Bero says. For example, cumin with pepper can help
produce better results for patients in radiation. "We’re going
to show that as a community we can prevent disease, improve the
outcome of diseases and prevent recurrence by supporting good quality
food and its availability," Bero says. "It’s true health
care reform. We reduce health care costs, there are fewer sick people
and we support local farms sending more money back into the
economy," she says. "You provide a true sustainable
hoping to push for is learning enough about food working with cancer
treatment, so that maybe one day we can decrease the amount of toxic
treatment," she says.
To learn more
about the effects of an anti-angiogenic diet, NuGenesis has entered
its second year of a collaborative study with the Medical College of
Wisconsin and UW-Waukesha to look at how changes in diet and behavior
affect overall health.
Davies is glad
to see more research is taking place on the subject. "I would
like to see food science research become more prevalent so physicians
can get a better idea of how food could help people regarding certain
diseases," Davies says.
For a list of
anti-angiogenic foods, go to the NuGenesis website at