Researchers link spread of breast cancer to diet

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To be able to spread, cancer cells first need to leave the original tumour, survive in the blood as "circulating tumour cells", and then colonise other organs.

A fruit-and-vegetable-rich diet with asparagine-lowering drugs can provide a better treatment and prevent the disease from metastasizing or spreading to other organs at a distance from the primary site.

Mice with intensive forms of breast cancer which would have seen them die within weeks were given low-asparagine diets or else were treated with drugs that blocked the absorption of the nutrient.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of United Kingdom group Breast Cancer Now, said: "On current evidence, we don't recommend patients totally exclude any specific food group from their diet without speaking to their doctors".

They team noted that Asparagine, an amino acid is vital for the growth of breast cancer.

Eating meat and fish can make cancer more deadly by helping it spread around the body, a study shows. Now their tumors were seen to have a significantly slower rate of spread across the body and this, in turn, prolonged lives of the mice. Poultry and several other sea foods are also associated with breast cancer growth because they have high levels of asparagine, they noted.

If the findings of the study will also prove true to humans, doctors may place breast cancer patients on a low-asparagine diet.

You can help fund future research leaders by supporting one of our young scientists and clinicians now. The study has been performed on mice diagnosed with a severe breast cancer.

How did researchers stop it from spreading?

Ironically, the drug L-asparaginase relies heavily on asparagine and is now used to treat leukemia in people. Using L-asparaginase to actively treat aggressive breast cancer is not the only thing that was established by this Cambridge research team during this trail.

"The next step in the research would be to understand how this translates from the lab to patients and which patients are most likely to benefit from any potential treatment". However, due to the prevalence of asparagine in many types of food, drugs that block the intake of the amino acid, named L-asparagine, may prove to be easier to administer.

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