Asparagus Cancer Cure

February 23, 2010 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

The Internet is my medium of choice. It’s the primary tool I use to reach the very people I hope to affect in a positive way. However, this same platform is also being used by others in ways that can be hurtful. Sometimes the root of the damage stems from greed. I’m sure you’ve seen online advertisements for products that claim to effortlessly reverse Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and even extend your lifespan. Fortunately, many people recognize that those sales pitches are hyperbolic at best and downright unbelievable at worst. But what happens when you receive an email from a family member or friend that contains health related information that claims a miraculous medical cure? The person who sent the information obviously cares about you and isn’t asking for any financial compensation. In short, the advice given in such emails is coming “from the heart”. What could possibly be wrong with that?

I recently received an email inquiring about a proposed asparagus cancer cure. This sort of claim isn’t uncommon on the ‘net. But there was an added element in this correspondence that intrigued me: the source of the information cited was from Snopes.com – a website that reviews and debunks fantastical rumors and urban myths. This was enough to set me off on my own personal search for an answer to the question – “Does eating asparagus cure cancer?”.

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. A large serving of these green, purple or white stalks (about 12 stalks/one cup) only has about 30 calories and is an excellent source of valuable nutrients such as folic acid, potassium, Vitamins A, C and K. Beyond that, it also provides a fairly substantial amount of protein and fiber while contributing hardly any sugar. It’s pretty close to being an ideal food regardless of what kind of diet you’re following. (1)

Whenever you consider the relative worth of natural food, you need to take into account its phytochemical composition. Plant chemicals can contribute enormously to the overall impact of a fruit or vegetable on the human body. In many cases the benefits come from the potent antioxidant potential of said phytochemicals. In the case of asparagus, scientists have identified a number of antioxidant substances that *may* play a role in combating malignancies. The most popular plant chemical in Asparagus officinalis is probably glutathione, a free radical fighter that is thought to interfere with the establishment and promotion of cancer. However, there are many other anti-cancer components in this super food as well. (2,3,4)

  • Ferulic Acid - The cell walls of asparagus spears contain this potent antioxidant that is chemically similar to curcumin, another phytochemical with a long track record of anti-cancer activity. Ferulic acid is believed to inhibit angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels that can spur tumor growth by shuttling nutrients and oxygen to malignancies and promote the spread of cancer to neighboring tissue. (5,6,7,8,9)
  • Quercetin and Rutin - Several laboratory tests have identified these flavonoids in asparagus. Preliminary research conducted mostly in animals and test tubes suggest that quercetin and rutin possess cytotoxic (cell destroying) properties in relation to a variety of cancers. Some scientists propose that these flavonoids may effectively slow the proliferation of abnormal (cancerous) cells and the death of existing malignant cells (apoptosis). (10,11,12,13,14,15)
  • Steroidal Saponins - A study published in the April 2009 issue of the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications reports that a steroidal saponin extracted from asparagus (asparanin A) is capable of halting the growth of liver (HepG2) cancer cells and promoting their selective death. The authors of that research concluded that, “These data indicate that asparanin A shows promise as a preventive and/or therapeutic agent against human hepatoma”. Previous studies have looked at numerous steroids from asparagus and determined similar cytotoxic activity versus other forms of cancer as well. It’s also important to note that a group of Chinese scientists recently discovered a new steroidal saponin in asparagus – yamogenin II. Only time will tell what this and future discoveries may hold in terms of the natural management of cancer. (16,17,18,19,20)

Top 10 Antioxidant Vegetables *

TRAP Value ** (mmol Trolox/kg FW) Rank
Asparagus 9.71 1
Beet Root 7.67 2
Artichoke 6.85 3
Turnip Tops 6.62 4
Chili Pepper 6.42 5
Radicchio 6.27 6
Mushroom 6.26 7
Spinach 5.79 8
Red Bell Pepper 5.47 9
Arugula 4.22 10
* Based on Testing Conducted on 34 Vegetable Extracts
** TRAP = Total Radical-Trapping Antioxidant Parameter

Source: J. Nutr. 133:2812-2819, September 2003 (link)

Asparagus consumption has also been linked to a few key processes that may discourage the formation of cancer via: a) an antimutagenic effect – preventing genetic mutations which can directly precede the earliest stages of cancer development; b) the promotion of “cellular phase II detoxifying enzymes” which “facilitate the removal of drugs and xenobiotic compounds” that are carcinogenic and supporting overall liver function; c) synergistically enhancing the antioxidant activity of other plant foods; d) the inhibition of chronic inflammation (cycooxygenase-2 suppression) which is thought to play a role in tumor development and; e) the promotion of healthier digestion and immune function thanks to its natural, prebiotic content. (21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29)

The color of asparagus may also play a role in its therapeutic potential. I would suggest sticking with the green or purple stalked varieties. A class of phytochemicals known as anthocyanins are what gives “purple passion asparagus” its distinctive color. These substances, similar to those found in berries and red wine, possess a potent oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) and may play a role in protecting against many age related and chronic conditions ranging from arthritis to dementia. They’ve also been associated with considerable anti-cancer activity based on animal, human and test tube investigations. Green asparagus do not contain anthocyanins but they’re loaded with several varieties of carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids have likewise been correlated with a reduced risk of cancer in population studies that have examined the dietary consumption of these plant pigments in relation to cancer incidence. (30,31,32,33,34,35,36)

In closing, I want to point out several relevant facts about this controversy. When examining the current state of asparagus research, it’s important that we only focus on the exact type of asparagus that is typically consumed as a vegetable (Asparagus officinalis). There are additional members of the genus Asparagus that do possess other medicinal properties but are generally not consumed as a vegetable worldwide. The Snopes.com piece I mentioned earlier does provided information about a possible asparagus cancer cure, but that was only part of what they reported. Toward the bottom of that column, it’s made clear that the origin of this claim, an article that’s reputed to have been published in a 1979 edition of the Cancer News Journal, is seriously in question. The author of the Snopes review concludes that “miraculous tales of serious bouts of cancer overcome by asparagus therapy cannot be confirmed and thus should not be regarded as anything other than lore”. Ralph Moss Ph.D., a leading figure in the integrative cancer treatment movement, recently noted that he’s been hearing about asparagus cancer cures for over 35 years. He goes on to say that this widely circulated story “has all the hallmarks of an urban myth” and that it’s “unsupported by scientific studies”. Even after putting together all of the evidence for today’s column, I have to mostly agree with Dr. Moss. The word “cure” is a very definitive word. I don’t think it can be responsibly used in this case. I have absolutely no problem recommending asparagus to anyone and everyone who will read my words. By all means, eat it regularly. It’s a wonderfully nutritious and therapeutic vegetable. But claiming that it alone can heal malignancies is stretching the truth and could result in some people missing out on other treatments that are more likely to extend their lives and provide a real cure. (37,38)

Be well!

JP

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Detoxification, Food and Drink

24 Comments to “Asparagus Cancer Cure”

  1. anne h Says:

    I have never had it, but am planning to have some this week end. At my job, I get to cook one new thing every week! Until I run out of “new.”
    Another good post, JP!

  2. JP Says:

    I hope you enjoy it, Anne. :)

    Mrs. Healthy Fellow and I often put a row of asparagus spears on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper and baked in the oven for several minutes. So simple yet so delicious and healthy!

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Nina K. Says:

    Good Morning JP :-)

    asparagus is very yummy – so good luck that its healthy too ;-)

    we love it this way:

    steamed, with butter and beef tenderloin :-)

    Stay healthy!
    Nina K.

  4. JP Says:

    Good day, Nina! :)

    Sounds like a delicious pairing. The only thing I might add is a glass of organic or biodynamic red wine. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Nina K. Says:

    …oh i forgot to add…of course red wine is a must :-) ;-)

  6. JP Says:

    Good! We agree! :)

  7. VIny Says:

    Homeopathy is the best approach to fight cancer for difficult cases. I am still not convinced about asparagus

  8. JP Says:

    Maybe so, Vlny. Maybe so.

    http://www.cancerdecisions.com/content/view/414/2/lang,english/

    Be wel1!

    JP

  9. Gemson David Santiago Says:

    I am just searching the net looking for better solutions to cure cancer. My mother was previously recovered from breast and lung cancer. Now her Doctor recently found out that another cancer – bone cancer, which tormenting to hear about the complication of this compare to the previous illnesses that she had been through.

    Therefore, it was concluded by the Doctor that my Mom will be leaving only for about 3 months prior from the day it was said. Definitely, I beg to disagree and I believe that only our creator knows everything beyond our comprehension.

    If you know better solution, secondary from the best from above, please let me know.

    Thank you.

  10. JP Says:

    Gemson,

    I’m very sorry to hear about your mother.

    I don’t claim to know of a solution but I am aware of a few resources that may be helpful:

    1. You might consider ordering a Moss Report on the specific form of cancer that your mother is battling. I believe Dr. Moss also offers individual consultations.

    http://www.cancerdecisions.com/

    2. I’m not sure where you’re located but I would certainly seek out a second opinion from another oncologist and perhaps another consultation with a specialist that focuses on integrative cancer treatment – one which combines alternative/complementary medicine with standard care. This is an example of a comprehensive, integrative cancer treatment facility:

    http://www.cancercenter.com/

    3. Finally, I agree with you that hope is a valuable resource. You and your mother may find the works of Dr. Bernie Siegel to be of value.

    http://www.berniesiegelmd.com/

    I wish you both all the best.

    Be well!

    JP

  11. AMITAVA BANERJEE Says:

    Hi. JP,
    I am serching for ASPARAGUS AND PROSTATE CANCER with Lymphnode metastasis.
    Asparagus is an Antioxidant, will it be good to use Asparagus to stop growth of Ca. and to reduce PSA level?
    Thanks.

    Amitava

  12. JP Says:

    Good day, Amitava.

    I wish I could answer, “yes” to your question. But I haven’t seen any compelling evidence suggesting that it does.

    Be well!

    JP

  13. janet Lewis Says:

    I find this most interesting and would like to learn more, esp. more recent data.

  14. JP Says:

    Janet,

    Thank you. Here’s the latest mention of asparagus in relation to cancer in the scientific literature:

    http://www.seminoncol.org/article/S0093-7754%2810%2900093-X/abstract

    Be well!

    JP

  15. im Says:

    Wife has cancer. Stage 4 with no options available from Modern medicine.
    Trying alternatives, with no trials available to help make choices.
    So far:
    Prayer
    Diet- green
    Meditation & Breathing
    Pawpaw
    Oleanda
    Hemp Oil – “Run from the Cure”
    asparagus?
    can only add to the range of greens.
    We will never know what cures, but who’s counting.
    Cheers

  16. CB Says:

    My wife is a 5 yr endimetrial cancer patient who has a rare type known to be aggressive with a poor prognosis. The proven cancer fighters I have found from untold hours of research are the spices tumeric, ginger, and the vitamin D3. Black seed oil also seems to be promising but don’t take my word for any of this research to verify it. The doctor does seem befuddled that her “agressive” cancer has grown so slowly with no mets while her ca125 is stable in the norm range altho she has had several recurrances in the same original site. I do know that many of our doctors know about the tumeric effect and have no problem with her taking it and there have been trials at MD anderson here in Houston on it where my wife is a patient. One thing we have learned in OUR CASE is to always SEMI-second guess our Doctors, knowlege is KEY. Another fact is that pot has helped her severe nausea when nothing else would as does the synthetic pot now legally sold in most states. THIS HAS BEEN OUR EXPERIENCE YOUR SITUATION MAY BE DIFFERENT always check with your doctor before trying anything different that what they recommend. I dont mean that our life is all roses here we are definitely living in a hell right now. God bless and good luck.

  17. JP Says:

    Thank you, CB. I really appreciate you sharing your experience with us. :)

    I wish both you and your wife all the best. Please keep checking my site for updated information about natural cancer options. I post about them regularly.

    Be well!

    JP

  18. Pat Says:

    In the article it is advised to take 4 ounces of pureed asparagus twice a day. I would like to know if it is much more effective pureed or can one take the four ounces twice a day just cooked whole?
    Thanks

  19. JP Says:

    Pat,

    Just my opinion but, I think eating it in a whole state would be fine. My preference is to have it lightly steamed. Gently roasting asparagus with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, fresh cracked pepper and sea salt on top is another healthy and tasty way to go, IMO. Or, you could try this for a flavorful change of pace:

    http://www.healthyfellow.com/697/creamy-asparagus-soup-recipe/

    Be well!

    JP

  20. Heinz Gasser Says:

    We have been eating asparagus all our lives, may-be not enough, because my wife had breast cancer. Luckily, she was able to get rid of it.

  21. Heinz Gasser Says:

    We have been eating asparagus all our lives, may-be not enough, because my wife got breast cancer. Fortunately she was able to cure it.

  22. sabina Says:

    hi

    my father was diagnosed with pharynx cancer a year back. He had undergone radiotheray and chemotherapy. Doctor said he is near cancer recovery and is under medication. He is having Avemar. I just got email regarding asparagus therapy. I wonder if it really works. So he will be having asparagus from tomorrow. I’m hoping for the positive response.

  23. molu Says:

    Dear JP,

    A friend of mine was diagonised with jaundice related to Gallbladder and was advised to undergo raditation treatment. Does that mean my friend is diagonised with Gallbladder cancer and if so how good are the chances of being cured? I understand this is rare type of cancer and early detection is not possible? Could you please reply to my e-mail id?

  24. Jan Kunze Says:

    I have been eating puree asparagus for 3 months. Trust me it did not cure my cancer which is Lymphoma . I will no longer eat it pureed. At first it was good and now YUK!! I will eat it now and then as a vegetable.

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