Laying off asparagus may help beat cancer

09 February, 2018, 03:43 | Author: Darrell Lopez
  • Discovery in understanding the spread of breast cancer could lead to new treatments to slow metastasis

They then examined data from breast cancer patients, which indicated that the greater the ability of breast cancer cells to make asparagine, the more likely the disease is to spread. In several other cancer types, increased asparagine levels were associated with reduced survival.

Finding ways to stop this from happening is key to increasing survival.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have shown how limiting the body's production of this amino acid - a building block for larger protein molecules in the body - or curbing it with drugs or dietary restrictions, significantly reduced the ability of breast cancers to spread. When the laboratory mice were given food rich in asparagine, the cancer cells spread more rapidly. Foods that contain high amounts of asparagines include poultry meat and eggs, dairy, whey, beef, fish, sea foods.

Research was conducted at 12 institutions around the globe.

They team noted that Asparagine, an amino acid is vital for the growth of breast cancer.

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But fear not asparagus lovers, these findings still need to be confirmed in people and asparagine is hard to avoid in the diet anyway.

This work relied on the team's expertise in analysing the metabolic processes that take place in cancer cells.

How did researchers stop it from spreading?

The link between asparagine and the spread of breast cancer was explored by a multicenter study that used in vitro and in vivo models of triple-negative breast cancer to expose metastatic drivers.

"This is interesting research looking at how cutting off the supply of nutrients essential to cancer's spread could help restrain tumours". To cite an example for some early stage breast cancer patients, surgery might be the first stepping stone but that may not be the choice for the stage 4 breast cancer. Altering the diet to fit in the cancer profile could thus help reduce the spread of the cancer and its growth, he explained.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of United Kingdom group Breast Cancer Now, said: "On current evidence, we don't recommend patients totally exclude any specific food group from their diet without speaking to their doctors".

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