Scientists discovered that having a diet low in asparagine could prevent the spread of tumors of a deadly type of breast cancer. Asparagine is an amino acid, which is a building block of protein.
The study was published in the medical journal Nature. The scientists found that low intake of asparagine in the mice model with triple-negative breast cancer could significantly prevent disease to spread in the body.
Simon Knott, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics at Cedars-Sinai and one of the authors of the study, said that their research contributes to a growing body of evidence that suggests diet could influence the course of the disease. He further stated that if further research confirms the finding in human cells, limiting the amount of asparagine cancer patients ingest could be a potential strategy to increase the existing therapies and to prevent the spread of breast cancer.
Foods that are low in asparagine are fruits and vegetables. Meanwhile, foods that are an excellent source of asparagine are beef, poultry, whey, dairy, seafood, asparagus, potatoes, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and soy, according to Medical Xpress.
In the study conducted at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, the researchers examined the triple-negative breast cancer cells of the mice. The animals could die in a few weeks as the tumor spread in their bodies. However, the scientists gave them a low-asparagine diet or drugs to block asparagine. The results showed that the tumors was prevented from circulating in their bodies, according to BBC.
The scientists also found that enzyme cells used to make asparagine known as asparagine synthetase was linked with later cancer spread. The metastasis was also significantly limited by lessening the synthetase, treatment with the chemotherapy drug L-asparaginase or dietary restriction. Meanwhile, when the mice consumed foods rich in asparagine, the cancer cells had spread faster in the body.
Gregory J. Hannon, Ph.D., professor of Cancer Molecular Biology and director of Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and the senior author of the study said that this research indicates that changes in diet might impact both how an individual responds to primary therapy and their chances of the lethal disease spreading later in life. The results of the study may not only apply to breast cancer but for other metastatic cancers, according to some experts.