Amino acid in asparagus could cause cancer to spread, study says

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That's because food with that amino acid in it include, according to The Boston Globe.

In the study, published in the journal Nature, the team discovered that the appearance of asparagine synthetase - the enzyme cells used to make asparagine - in a primary tumour was strongly associated with later cancer spread.

The majority of those with breast cancer die due to the disease spreading - rather than from the primary tumor.

The findings showed that limiting amino acid asparagine in laboratory mice with triple-negative breast cancer dramatically reduced the ability of cancer to travel to distant sites in the body.

"This study may have implications not only for breast cancer but for many metastatic cancers", added Ravi Thadhani, from the varsity. They said this could also be the case for kidney and head and neck cancers.

These data indicated that the greater the ability of breast cancer cells to make asparagine, the more likely the disease is to spread.

They hope the finding may yield a method to prevent cancer cells spreading from their origins in a woman's breast to form tumors in her lungs, brain, other organs or bones - a process known as "metastasis" which is the most common cause of death.

Could an asparagine-restricted diet help stop tumour spread in cancer patients?

He cited other studies that found different results such as research from India that found a chemical in asparagus to stop the growth of other types of cancer.

"Our study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests diet can influence the course of the disease", said lead author Simon Knott, Associate Director at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre - a US-based non-profit.

"It's important for patients to speak to their doctor before making any changes to their diet while having treatment".

This may be the first time that a change in diet has been linked to a biological process that promotes cancer spread, the researchers said.

To do so, they attempted to block the production of asparagine in mice with a drug called L-asparaginase.

"Triple-negative breast cancer is resistant to treatment and has a high recurrence rate", Reizes said. It's possible that in future, this drug could be repurposed to help treat breast cancer patients.

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