Amino Acid From Asparagus Makes Breast Cancer Spread – (STUDY)

Written by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Asparagus Makes Breast Cancer Spread

Figures show[1] that 1 in 8 US women or 12.4% will develop an invasive form of breast cancer at some point in her life. It is estimated that 266,120 new cases of invasive and 63,960 cases of non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2018. For American women, breast cancer death rates are higher than those of any other cancer.

Besides skin cancer, this severe disease is the most frequently diagnosed type of cancer among US women. Although widespread, there is a lot we need to learn about breast cancer and its most dangerous form. The latest study made important discoveries scroll down to find out more.

Breast Cancer and Diet

A study carried out by several institutions including the University of Cambridge and Cedars-Sinai had an objective to discover why triple-negative breast cancer (one of the most aggressive types of this disease) not only survives but also thrives in a patient’s body. The goal here was to find out more about potential mechanisms in order to modify the way this type of breast cancer is treated.

Triple-negative breast cancer lacks receptors for estrogen and progesterone and makes a little dose of protein HER2. In turn, the disease resists common treatments for breast cancer which target hormones and the HER2 protein, hence the triple-negative name. That’s why mortality for this type of breast cancer is higher than in others.

In previous studies, it was found that asparagine, an amino acid found in asparagus, whey, dairy, poultry, beef, fish and seafood, legumes, potatoes, seeds, nuts, soy, and whole grains, contributes to spreading of triple-negative breast cancer.

Professors Simon Knott and Gregory J. Hannon together with their team used mice for the purpose of their study. They administered the mice l-asparaginase, a chemotherapy drug used for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which inhibits the production of amino acid asparagine in the body. At the same time, scientists modified the diet to make sure animals consumed lower amounts of this amino acid.

Results, published in the journal Nature,[2] revealed that double action (l-asparaginase + lower consumption of asparagine) led to declining in breast cancer tumor metastases.

Breast Cancer Treatment

Asparagine Could Be the Key to Breast Cancer Treatment

Professor Hannon said[3] this study identifies asparagine as one of the most important mechanisms that cause breast cancer to spread. For example, mice that were fed high content of this nonessential amino acid experienced faster growth and spread of breast cancer tumor.

Knott and Hannon went one step forward by analyzing data from breast cancer patients. They found a positive relationship between the tumor’s ability to spread to other sites in the body and cancer cells’ ability to synthesize asparagine.

Now that asparagine is identified[4] as a key enzyme for breast cancer growth, it is considered as a major treatment target. What scientists want to do next is to carry out more studies to analyze mechanisms by which diet affects levels of asparagine.

Finding a way to reduce asparagine could improve treatment of triple-negative breast cancer and reduce mortality rates. Of course, we’ll have to wait a while for that to happen, since the study was carried out on mice. Human research is also needed.

Scientists theorize that asparagine could also play a role in the spread of other metastatic cancers.


The latest discovery could change the way triple negative breast cancer is treated. The study found that amino acid asparagine, found in asparagus and many other foods, promotes spread of breast cancer.

Finding a way to reduce this enzyme could aid treatment of the severe disease and reduce mortality rates. Healthy, well-balanced diet is important and the study doesn’t suggest you should discontinue consumption of these foods. Scientists aim to find out how one’s diet influences levels of asparagine.

Image Credits
Feature image:
In -Post Image:

Contributor : Dr. Ahmed Zayed ()

This Article Has Been Published on February 12, 2018 and Last Modified on December 10, 2018

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain Shams University. You can connect with him on Linkedin.

View All

Take Action: Support Consumer Health Digest by linking to this article from your website

Permalink to this article:

Embed article link: (Click to copy HTML code below):

Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use OK, cite with clickable link.