Breast cancer affects one in every eight women, which is why the majority of us have come into contact (even if just peripherally) with the disease at some point. Thankfully there have been some recent promising developments on the research front to help combat it: Scientists are figuring out the genetics that cause it and that the disease is less deadly than it used to be. And in a new study, researchers identified certain foods to avoid because they may act as catalysts for the spread of breast cancer.
The study, published in the international science journal Nature, examined mice with triple-negative breast cancer, which is one of the deadliest types, since it’s resistant to most forms of treatment, Science Daily reports. The goal was to learn how and why cancerous cells move from the primary tumor site in the breast to other areas of the body.
“Our study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests diet can influence the course of the disease.” —Simon Knott, PhD
The research, which was conducted at more than 12 institutions, found that by limiting the amino acid asparagine—a protein building block that’s found in many foods including dairy, whey, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy, and whole grains—the cancer’s ability to spread was reduced. The few foods singled out as being low in asparagine, thus safe to eat, were (mostly) fruits and vegetables.
The next step is for researchers to see if healthy people following low-asparagine diets also see decreased levels of naturally-occurring asparagine. And then ultimately, the low-asparagine approach could be a medically recommended option to help actual cancer patients, alongside traditional treatments.
The link between diet and health (both mental and physical) has become increasingly clear of late. “Our study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests diet can influence the course of the disease,” said study co-author Simon Knott, PhD.
While the results of this study do not add up to a cure for cancer, they take research one step closer to understanding a disease that affects so many women. And since knowledge, as they say, is power, the diet tips are valuable info.
If you have a friend who has breast cancer, here’s how to help. Also, this is how Shannen Doherty spread awareness about the disease.