Food may influence cancer spread

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Despite Knott's warning that it's best to avoid drastic measures such as eliminating most foods from your diet, the researcher does think that more studies could possibly lead to treatments that stop cancer from spreading.

After feeding the mice a diet low in asparagine, researchers found that the diet reduced the tumor's ability to spread.

Does this mean that you should remove all these foods from your diet?

The doctors then checked records of former breast cancer patients who died of the disease and found that those with multiple other tumors caused from their breast cancers also had the highest levels of asparagine. This migration of cancer cells to nearby healthy tissue is called metastasis, and researchers estimate 90 percent of breast cancer deaths are due to it.

On the other hand, the scientists also restricted the mice's diets, so that they would have a lower asparagine content. Ironically, the drug L-asparaginase relies heavily on asparagine and is now used to treat leukemia in people. The study has been performed on mice diagnosed with a severe breast cancer.

Cambridge scientists have found proof of cancer spread to be connected to the kind of food people consume.

Knott explained that research is preliminary, and there is no evidence of how a diet low in asparagine could work in humans. 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.

"This finding adds vital information to our understanding of how we can stop cancer spreading - the main reason patients die from their disease".

Cancer Research UK's chief clinician Charles Swanton said that further research is required to check whether the findings can be applied in a real-life scenario.

"Limiting asparagine by knockdown of asparagine synthetase, treatment with L-asparaginase, or dietary asparagine restriction reduces metastasis without affecting growth of the primary tumor, whereas increased dietary asparagine or enforced asparagine synthetase expression promotes metastatic progression", wrote the article's authors. The chemical compound is also found in dairy, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, potatoes, beans, nuts, soy and grains.

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