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New Research Suggests That Food Can Fuel or Inhibit Cancer Growth

08 February 2018

Poultry and several other sea foods are also associated with breast cancer growth because they have high levels of asparagine, they noted.

In treating the mice, the researchers found that restricting the amount of asparagus in the animals' diet reduced the spread of the cancer.

However, the mice were given either a low-asparagine diet or drugs to block the amino acid found in the asparagus for which it is named. The cells used are called triple-negative breast cancer cells, which grow and spread faster than most other cancers.

The restricted diet made some cancer cells, known as oxygen reactive species, more vulnerable to chemicals which occur in chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

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The research had multiple funders, including Cancer Research UK, the National Institutes of Health, and the ICR, and was published in the journal Nature today.

"When the availability of asparagine was reduced, we saw little impact on the primary tumour in the breast, but tumour cells had reduced capacity for metastases in other parts of the body".

The researchers gave mice with breast cancer an enzyme that prevents the production of the amino acid asparagine.

Study leader Professor Greg Hannon said: "This finding adds vital information to our understanding of how we can stop cancer spreading - the main reason patients die from their disease".

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Dr George Poulogiannis, Dr Michel Wagner and PhD student Marc Olivier Turgeon worked on the research that took place at the ICR.

Although Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, agrees the findings are "interesting", he adds further research is required to determine whether the results apply in real-life settings out of the lab.

They were also put on a low-asparagine diet. 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.

Diet may impact the spread of some cancers, according to a study published Wednesday by an global team of researchers. They do know that not all cancer patients would benefit from this treatment. Professor Hannon said that their studies show that some cancers are "addicted" to some amino acids or parts of our diets specifically.

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New Research Suggests That Food Can Fuel or Inhibit Cancer Growth