Food nutrient linked to tumour growth, study shows

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Some recent research suggested that foods which contain high levels of asparagine, an amino acid, may be associated with the spread of breast cancer, as USA Today reported.

"Researches deprived mice of asparagine through a few strict diet or used a drug to stop asparagine metabolism and found quite surprisingly that the breast cancer cells didn't spread".

A team of worldwide cancer researchers from the UK, US and Canada studied the impact of asparagine in triple-negative breast cancer cells, which grow and spread faster than most other types of cancer cells.

"What the study did is it look at a particular amino acid which is a building block of protein and looked at whether asparagine concentrations could lead to cancer spread and cancer growth".

The dietary nutrient asparagine was also confirmed to be found in seafood, poultry, among other nutrition.

Most fruits and vegetable are low in asparagine.

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The research team found that this genetic adjustment had the same effect in reducing the spread of cancer, or made new metastases smaller with a combination of techniques producing the best results - and in some cases even shrinking the primary tumour. When this takes place the disease has already reached stage 4 called the metastatic cancer.

Reducing the amount of asparagine in the mice reduced the spread of cancer but had no impact on the development of their primary tumour, the journal Nature reports. There has been an earlier study published previous year that showed that the amino acids glycine and serine were important for the development and spread of lymphomas and intestinal cancers.

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

But fear not asparagus lovers, these findings still need to be confirmed in people and asparagine is hard to avoid in the diet anyway.

It has not been determined how the amino acid induces tumor growth, but researchers believe that the acid somehow helps the cancerous cells leave their original site and colonize other organs.

It is also discovered that in several other cancer types, increased "asparagine" levels were linked with low cancer survival.That is why an early trial in which healthy patients consume a low-"asparagine" diet is now given a thought.