Does asparagus help with cancer prevention?
by Tara Green
(NaturalNews) Contrary to popular internet rumor, asparagus is not a miracle cancer cure. Like most fruits and vegetables, asparagus does offer a plethora of health benefits, including delivering some vitamins and minerals effective in cancer prevention. Ingesting massive doses of asparagus to fight cancer will most likely give you foul smelling urine and it also has some potential for feeding certain cancers.
The Good News
A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010 found that vitamin B6 when combined with folate and methionine can reduce the chances of lung cancer by as much as two-thirds. Asparagus contains both vitamin B and folate. (Methionine, an amino acid, can be obtained from meat, poultry, fish, cottage cheese, peanuts beans, eggs, garlic, lentils, onions, yogurt and sesame seeds).
In 2009, researchers in Nanjing, China identified a compound called Asparanin A in asparagus. The researchers found that Asparanin A arrests the growth liver cancer cells and can even cause death in those cells.
Asparagus is the best food source of the anti-oxidant glutathione, a substance researchers at the Institute for Cancer Prevention have identified as effective in warding off cancer. Glutathione is also believed to have anti-viral properties.
Research has shown that chronic, excessive inflammation and chronic oxidative stress heighten the risk for many types of cancers. Since asparagus contains many nutrients, including saponins, which have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property, it deserves a place in a healthy diet, along with other vegetables and fruits. The anti-inflammatory nutrients in asparagus make it an excellent dietary choice for people trying to combat diseases such as arthritis and rheumatism. It can also help prevent varicose veins.
Asparagus benefits the body in many other ways. Ayurvedic healing refers to asparagus as “shatavari” which means “women with a thousand husbands.” Ayurvedic experts have used shatavari for centuries to treat the symptoms of menopause as well as infertility and loss of libido.
The Bad News
Asparagus contains an amino acid called asparagine. Normal cells generally manufacture this substance, but leukemia cells often cannot and must obtain their supply from adjacent normal cells. If starved of asparagine, leukemia cells die. Elgar, a pharmaceutical prescribed for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), contains an enzyme, L-asparaginase, which destroys circulating asparagine in order to starve leukemia cells. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians states “Eating asparagus would seem ill advised for people who have cancers that respond to l-asparaginase.”
The popular health myth of asparagus as a magical remedy for cancer is unfounded; the prescriptions which accompany that myth for ingesting massive quantities of this vegetable will likely not have the desired effect. Recommendations which rely solely on one food as a supposed miracle cure are based on a mistaken allopathic “magic bullet” concept to the alternative health model.
Alternative health is about balance, not about one single herb, vegetable or fruit with extraordinary properties. Take with a grain of full spectrum salt any health advice which sounds suspiciously like it came from the Lord of the Rings.
Nature offers an abundance of healthy choices for creating health and these foods work in combination with each other, and with a healthy lifestyle. Eating reasonable amounts of asparagus, as part a diet which includes many different fruits and vegetables, will help protect you against cancer, as well as help strengthen the body in other ways.
Certain foods are not advisable for some people, who have allergies and food sensitivities. In the case of those few cancers, such as ALL, which respond to l-asparaginase, asparagus may be a food to limit in your diet.