Published: Thu, February 08, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

New Research Suggests That Food Can Fuel or Inhibit Cancer Growth

New Research Suggests That Food Can Fuel or Inhibit Cancer Growth

University of Cambridge academic Gregory Hannon conducted tests involving laboratory mice alongside a team of global cancer researchers and found that lowering the consumption of asparagine stopped the spread of triple-negative breast cancer, News.com.au reports.

But lovers of asparagus and seafood should not banish them from their diets just yet, according to Baroness Delyth Morgan, the chief executive at Breast Cancer Now.

Olaparib was made available on the NHS for ovarian cancer two years ago after scientists showed it increased survival by 11 months.

"Our work has pinpointed one of the key mechanisms that promotes the ability of breast cancer cells to spread". Foods that contain high amounts of asparagines include poultry meat and eggs, dairy, whey, beef, fish, sea foods.

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In future, the scientists believe that alongside conventional treatments like chemotherapy, breast cancer patients could be given a diet in hospital that restricts asparagine to help stop the disease spreading.

Last week official figures revealed that the disease has become a bigger killer than breast cancer for the first time.

Amino acids are essential building blocks that cells use to make proteins.

Most cancer patients do not die from their primary tumour, but from the spread of diseased cells to the lungs, brain, bones, or other organs. They designed and carried out studies to measure the levels of asparagine in different tissues within the mice before and after treatment with the L-asparaginase drug.

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

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"A better understanding of the nutrients that help fuel cancer's spread is important if we're going to find new ways to slow the process down and possibly stop it". There already exist treatments for some cancers which target asparagine in the same way.

The researchers, whose study is published in the journal Nature, also found an asparagine link when they examined data from breast cancer patients. The next step would involve a clinical trial with cancer patients. The Kras gene activation is common in patients with pancreatic cancer. Patients with kidney or head and neck cancers could also benefit, the findings suggest. 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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