'This is a really important study' – food protein found in asparagus linked to spread of cancer

Researchers have linked an amino acid found in a variety of foods including asparagus to the spread of breast cancer, work that has been labelled as a "really important study" by Cancer Society New Zealand. 

A team of international cancer researchers have shown in mice that limiting the consumption of the amino acid asparagine stopped the spread of triple-negative breast cancer.

Published in medical journal Nature, experts say the study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests diet can influence the course of the disease.

Speaking on TVNZ 1's Breakfast programme this morning, Cancer Society New Zealand's chief medical director Chris Jackson says "this is a really important study."

"Many people who have cancer worry about whether or not what they eat will fuel the growth of their cancer, and so naturally people are very interested in this," he said.  

"What the study did is it look at a particular amino acid which is a building block of protein and looked at whether asparagine concentrations could lead to cancer spread and cancer growth.

"Researches deprived mice of asparagine through a few strict diet or used a drug to stop asparagine metabolism and found quite surprisingly that the breast cancer cells didn't spread.

"This is a rare sub type of breast cancer called triple-negative breast cancer so it does not apply to all breast cancers and of course it is a mouse model so we can't really say the same is true for humans."

Amino acids are used by cells to make proteins. Foods rich in asparagine include dairy, whey, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy and whole grains.

Most fruits and vegetable are low in asparagine.

"Extreme dieting is certainly going to be very bad for you if you have cancer, but what it does show is that this is a really important potential mechanism and there is actually a drug out there already which we use for leukemia called L asparaginase which actually blocks the metabolism and so this means... this old drug could be used in a new way and could prevent against the spread of cancer," Dr Jackson said. 

"I think if people are worried about their risk of cancer, there are many things that we know that we already need to do. We need to not smoke, if we are smokers we need to quit, we probably all need to think before we have that second drink and we need to make sure we maintain our weight in a healthy range. 

"Cancer is the number one cause of death in New Zealand, it's the most important cause of death and the rates of cancer are actually going up or the number of people affected by cancer but also the rate of cure from cancer is going up and the cure rates are higher than they have ever been but there is still a lot of work we need to do for cancer in terms of prevention, detection and treatment in order to reduce the impact on thousands of New Zealanders every year." 

Cancer Society New Zealand's Medical Director Chris Jackson says the study will help in the development of drugs. Source: Breakfast


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Delays for Wellington commuters after truck hits rail bridge

Commuters on the Kapiti train line into Wellington should prepare for delays after a truck hit the rail bridge at Ngauranga. 

There is a 25kmh speed limit in place for trains at Ngauranga, delaying the Kapiti line. Source: Breakfast

The vehicle was towing an oversize load when it clipped the bridge just before 5am.

Kiwirail says engineers have now inspected the crossing and a 25km/h speed limit is in place for trains. 

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Willie Jackson says Sir Bob Jones 'acting like an idiot' with 'Maori Gratitude Day' idea

Government minister Willie Jackson doubts the Government would strip Sir Bob Jones of his knighthood over his suggestion that a "Maori Gratitude Day" should be introduced in place of Waitangi Day, but says he's "acting like an idiot".

A online petition is demanding the businessman and former politician be stripped of his knighthood because of comments he wrote in a column on a newspaper website.

In an opinion piece in the National Business Review, Sir Bob said: "As there are no full-blooded Maori in existence it indisputably follows that if it had not been for migrants, mainly Brits, not a single Maori alive today, including Professor Temaru, would have existed."

And he suggested a public holiday, 'Maori Gratitude Day', where Maori supply breakfast in bed and do other chores to show gratitude for their existence.

"I have in mind a public holiday where Maori bring us breakfast in bed or weed our gardens, wash and polish our cars and so on, out of gratitude for existing," he wrote.

NBR removed the column, tweeting this was "due to inappropriate content".

The petition organiser, Renae Maihi, told 1 NEWS Sir Bob's column "goes beyond inappropriate".

"Somebody who speaks like that, and writes like that, should not be a sir in our country." 

But Labour MP Willie Jackson believes that would be a step too far.

"People have made mistakes, who have been knights, and so to make him an example of, I don't think is fair. You know I don't think as Government we'd go down that track," he told 1 NEWS.

"Bob really just has to look at himself because he's better than that, and at the moment, he's acting like an idiot." 

Comedian Mike King says what Sir Bob needs 'is our empathy and a warm bowl of custard'. Source: 1 NEWS

Social commentator Mike King said: "I don't think anyone should take seriously what Bob is saying. He's like that doddery old uncle whose social filter is now broken."

1 NEWS went to Sir Bob's Wellington office. He didn't want to appear on camera as he had just had an eye operation. 

But he's standing by his comments, saying he wrote a "perfectly factual thing" and maintained it's not racist.

He said "some things I said are indisputable" and "it's obvious some of the things I said were a piss take", adding that he doesn't hate anyone. He also said the petition is "infantile".

The Human Rights Commission said in a statement Sir Bob Jones and outlets that choose to publish this kind of rhetoric need to be prepared for public backlash that they provoke, and deserve.

Ms Maihi said: "The world that he thinks he lives in, or the country he thinks he lives in, doesn't exist anymore." 

Ms Maihi wants measures put in place to prevent the publishing of such comments and says New Zealand can do better.

The businessman is sticking to his words and others don't believe he should lose his knighthood. Source: 1 NEWS