New York: Limiting the intake of foods rich in asparagine including dairy, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, nuts, soy and whole grains, while increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables may potentially help halt the spread of a deadly type of breast cancer, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, suggests.
Asparagine is an amino acid -- the building blocks that cells use to make proteins.
The findings showed that limiting amino acid asparagine in laboratory mice with triple-negative breast cancer dramatically reduced the ability of the cancer to travel to distant sites in the body.
"Our study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests diet can influence the course of the disease," said lead authpr Simon Knott, Associate Director at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre -- a US-based non-profit.
"This study may have implications not only for breast cancer, but for many metastatic cancers," added Ravi Thadhani, from the varsity.
In the study, published in the journal Nature, the team discovered that the appearance of asparagine synthetase -- the enzyme cells used to make asparagine -- in a primary tumour was strongly associated with later cancer spread.
Further, metastasis was found greatly limited by reducing asparagine synthetase, treatment with the chemotherapy drug L-asparaginase, or dietary restriction.
When the lab mice were given food rich in asparagine, the cancer cells spread more rapidly.
"The study suggests that changes in diet might impact both how an individual responds to primary therapy and their chances of lethal disease spreading later in life," said Gregory J. Hannon, professor at the University of Cambridge in England.
Researchers are now considering conducting an early-phase clinical trial in which healthy participants would consume a low-asparagine diet.
If the findings are confirmed in human cells, limiting the amount of asparagine cancer patients ingest could be a potential strategy to augment existing therapies and to prevent the spread of breast cancer, Knott added.