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Asparagus linked to cancer growth

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Frida Alvarado, News Editor

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A recent study has linked a compound in asparagus and other food to spread breast cancer.

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute has recently conducted an experiment that suggested that the amino acid asparagine found in asparagus may help spread the aggressive form of breast cancer.

“This early discovery could offer a long-awaited new way to help stop breast cancer spreading – but we first need to understand the true role of this nutrient in patients. With nearly 11,500 women still dying from breast cancer each year in the UK, we urgently need to stop the disease spreading around the body, before it becomes incurable,” said Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now

Rsearchers are also investigating if a diet change could help cancer patients. In reality though, the amino acid asparagine is everywhere. Humans produce asparagine naturally in the body. Asparagine is also in almost every food we eat, making it hard to diet. The acid can be found in protein-rich foods like dairy, beef, chicken, eggs, fish, and other seafood. Asparagine levels are very low in fruits and vegetables, with the exception of asparagus. It is also present in potatoes, nuts, soy, and whole grains.

“If I did eat a lot of it and didn’t have cancer, I would still cut back on it because you don’t need to take a chance,” said Grace Carey, freshman.

The experiment was conducted on numerous mice. Posted on Nature, researchers reduced the ability of breast cancer to spread in the animals by blocking asparagine with a drug called L-asparagine. They did that by putting the animals on a low-asparagine diet that worked  too. Inspired by the results, the scientists examined records from human cancers and found that breast tumours that mixed out the most asparagine were most likely to spread, leading patients to die sooner. The same was seen in cancers of the head, neck and kidney.

Scientists still have no clue how consuming the compound will affect your body production, but are conducting experiments to figure out how to slow the internal production of the compound. Figuring out how to slow the production could help unlock how to stop the spreading of cancer.

“I had a very aggressive form of cancer and I definitely didn’t want to feed it anything that would make it grow” said Lori Hart, Journalism teacher.

A cancer researcher at Emory University in Atlanta has said that drug treatments are more reliable than changing a diet for patients. Scientists have also said that a chemotherapy drug used to treat leukemia called L-asparagine could also slow the spread of breast cancer. L-asparagine breaks down the amino acid in the bloodstream. More targeted drugs could block out its production altogether.

“Finding this compound really will help people and not just in the nation, all around the world,”said Abbington Delfelder, sophomore.

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Asparagus linked to cancer growth