Asparagus and Cancer: What Is The Link?

There is a rumor that goes around that seems to pop up as another form letter or e-mail chain letter every few years talking about asparagus being a miracle cure for cancer. This story comes up so often that it actually almost becomes hard to sort out fact from reality and the good science from rumor, wives’ tales, and mumbo-jumbo. If you want the truth about asparagus and cancer and what the real connection between the two is, then just read on!

The origin of these claims can actually be traced back to the 1970s. An article appeared in the February 1974 issue of a health foods magazine called “Prevention” arguing that two weeks of feeding a patient pureed asparagus paste several times a day resulted in the cancer disappearing, a claim that was then repeated in a 1979 magazine called “Cancer News” that was offered in health food stores at the time. The claim supposedly came from a dentist named Richard R. Vensal.

No studies have ever shown any signs of that being the case, or that there is even a positive direct cause and effect between cancer and eating asparagus. Most people know that a good general rule of thumb is that a high vegetable diet, especially one with plenty of greens like asparagus, is a good anti-cancer diet that provides your body with loads of positive vitamins, micro-nutrients, and antioxidants that help your body fight cancer.

The problem with eating asparagus to fight cancer is that the rule of thumb in this case not only might not be the case, but with certain types of cancer, asparagus might make the situation worse than it originally was.

Asparagus and Cancer

When it comes to medical peer-reviewed journals, there’s no actual scientific study showing this link to be the case. There are a few things that asparagus has going for it to make it a good idea for a cancer prevention diet:

– Excellent source of the vitamin folate which reduces your risk of cancer in certain body parts like the colon, pancreas, and esophagus

– Asparagus is a nutrient rich food that contains impressive levels of beta-carotene and even some Vitamin C

– Asparagus is a green vegetable, which as a whole is one of the best food groups for helping prevent cancer in the body

Cancer FightThe problem is, that none of these things show any evidence of asparagus and cancer as some magical cancer cure. While in most cases eating healthier food regardless of situation isn’t a bad thing, there are a few actual asparagus and cancer connections that shouldn’t be discounted.

Asparagus has had a long connection with leukemia, and it’s been shown that the plant contains a compound called l-asparagin. Many types of cancers make this on their own, but some grab it from other cells.

The aggressive types of cancer that do this would then get “fed” l-asparagin every time you ate asparagus, having the complete opposite effect of what you originally intended. In these cases eating asparagus is actually a negative thing and will not help you out. Stay away from this and stay with other fresh organic fruits and veggies that do not have the l-asparagin compound.