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Tres Reyes Island view of the Marinduque Mainland

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Asparagus Cure for Cancer? Truth or Fiction?

Is Asparagus a Cure for Cancer or is it a Hoax? The following two articles circulating in the Internet states it may have merits, but the articles #3 and #4 indicate it is a Hoax. Judge for yourself.

1.Article #1: "In Biblical times, herbs were one of the popular items eaten for not only nourishment, but sustenance. Now science is going back to those days to discover how the inhabitants of the earth survived without going to their non-existent local pharmacist. Whereas asparagus, an herb, has been around for 2000 years, currently there are studies which suggest that it is beneficial for curing cancer.

Beta carotene is one of the bonuses of asparagus along with the ever-welcome Vitamin C which assists the body in producing collagen. Without collagen there is no help in holding together the body’s tissues and cells.

Asparagus is a source of potassium. Its stalks are loaded with antioxidants. Potassium helps the body from losing calcium. The fiber content of asparagus makes it a natural laxative while other substances act as a diuretic and neutralize ammonia which makes us tired.

Closer analysis reveals that a half-dozen spears of asparagus contain about 50% of an adult’s recommended daily intake of foliate. Among other benefits, foliate protects pregnant mothers from their baby having neural tube defects.

The National Cancer Institute states that asparagus is one of the top-notch foods on their lists for helping the body to fight cancer. Along with containing the phyto-chemical glutathione, asparagus is high in rutin which is a recognized aid in strengthening blood vessels.

Cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine are the amino acids found in the protein glutathione and are part of the process of detoxification of the body when asparagus is eaten. Or, try some asparagus and lemon grass which are said to be a natural means of maintaining good health".

2.Article #2: ASPARAGUS – WHO KNEW?

"My Mom had been taking the full-stalk canned style asparagus that she pureed and she took 4 tablespoons in the morning and 4 tablespoons later in the day. She did this for over a month. She is on chemo pills for Stage 3 lung cancer in the pleural area and her cancer cell count went from 386 down to 125 as of this past week. Her oncologist said she does not need to see him for 3 months.

Several years ago, I had a man seeking asparagus for a friend who had cancer. He gave me a photocopied copy of an article, entitled, Asparagus for cancer 'printed in Cancer News Journal, December 1979. I will share it here, just as it was shared with me: I am a biochemist, and have specialized in the relation of diet to health or over 50 years. Several years ago, I learned of the discovery of Richard R.Vensal, D.D.S. that asparagus might cure cancer. Since then, I have worked with him on his project We have accumulated a number of favorable case histories. Here are a few examples:

Case No. 1: A man with an almost hopeless case of Hodgkin's disease (cancer of the lymph glands) who was completely incapacitated. Within 1 year of starting the asparagus therapy, his doctors were unable to detect any signs of cancer, and he was back on a schedule of strenuous exercise.

Case No. 2: A successful businessman 68 years old who suffered from cancer of the bladder for 16 years. After years of medical treatments, including radiation
without improvement, he went on asparagus. Within 3 months, examinations revealed that his bladder tumor had disappeared and that his kidneys were normal.

Case No. 3: A man who had lung cancer. On March 5th 1971, he was put on the operating table where they found lung cancer so widely spread that it was inoperable. The surgeon sewed him up and declared his case hopeless. On April 5th he heard about the Asparagus therapy and immediately started taking it By August, x-ray pictures revealed that all signs of the cancer had disappeared. He is back at his regular business routine.

Case No. 4: A woman who was troubled for a number of years with skin cancer. She finally developed different skin cancers which were diagnosed by the acting
specialist as advanced. Within 3 months after starting on asparagus, her skin specialist said that her skin looked fine and no more skin lesions. This woman
reported that the asparagus therapy also cured her kidney disease, which started in 1949. She had over 10 operations for kidney stones, and was receiving government disability payments for an inoperable, terminal, kidney condition. She attributes the cure of this kidney trouble entirely to the asparagus. I was not surprised at this result, as `The elements of material medical, edited in 1854 by a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania , stated that asparagus was used as a popular remedy for kidney stones. He even referred to experiments, in 1739, on the power of asparagus in dissolving stones. Note the dates! We would have other case histories but the medical establishment has interfered with our obtaining some for the records.

I am therefore appealing to readers to spread this good news and help us to gather a large number of case histories that will overwhelm the medical skeptics about this unbelievably simple and natural remedy.

For the treatment, asparagus should be cooked before using, and therefore canned asparagus is just as good as fresh. I have corresponded with the two leading canners of asparagus, Giant and Stokely, and I am satisfied that these brands contain no pesticides or preservatives.

Place the cooked asparagus in a blender and liquefy to make a puree, and store in the refrigerator. Give the patient 4 full tablespoons twice daily, morning and
evening. Patients usually show some improvement in 2-4 weeks. It can be diluted with water and used as a cold or hot drink. This suggested dosage is based on present experience, but certainly larger amounts can do no harm and may be needed in some cases. As a biochemist I am convinced of the old saying that what cures can prevent. Based on this theory, my wife and I have been using asparagus puree as a beverage with our meals. We take 2 tablespoons diluted in water to suit our taste with breakfast and with dinner. I take mine hot and my wife prefers hers cold. For years we have made it a practice to have blood surveys taken as part of our regular checkups. The last blood survey, taken by a medical doctor who specializes in the nutritional approach to health, showed substantial improvements in all categories over the last one, and we can attribute these improvements to nothing but the asparagus drink. As a biochemist, I have made an extensive study of all aspects of cancer, and all of the proposed cures. As a result, I am convinced that asparagus fits in better with the latest theories about cancer.

Asparagus contains a good supply of protein called histones, which are believed to be active in controlling cell growth.. For that reason, I believe asparagus can be said to contain a substance that I call cell growth normalize. That accounts for its action on cancer and in acting as a general body tonic. In any event, regardless of theory, asparagus used as we suggest,is a harmless substance. The FDA cannot prevent you from using it and it may do you much good. It has been reported by the US National Cancer Institute, that asparagus is the highest tested food containing
glutathione, which is considered one of the body's most potent anticarcinogens and antioxidants.

Here's a video for additional information:

Article #3:

I recently was told by one of my phone consultees that he was making a slurry of asparagus as a treatment for his cancer. For 35 years I have been hearing about the allegedly curative properties of asparagus. There is a single scientific study from China indicated that an asparagus extract can kill some cancer cells in the test tube (Liu 2009). But the Internet story of an alleged asparagus cure both predates that, and also goes way beyond it in its claims. It has all the hallmarks of an urban myth.

The "asparagus cure" apparently originated with one Richard R. Vensal, DDS. There are thousands of references to this Dr. Vensal on the Internet, but no explanation of who he was or how he arrived at his astonishing idea. No Richard Vensal is the author of any PubMed-listed scientific articles or any books in the gigantic National Library of Medicine catalog. I do remember some articles on the topic of the asparagus cure in Prevention and other health magazines in the 1970s. But, if I remember correctly, these were unsupported by scientific studies.

The Guinea Pig Connection

Ironically, there is indeed a connection between asparagus and cancer, but it not in the manner that most people believe. The real asparagus-and-cancer story began with an observation by the research pathologist John G. Kidd (1909-1991) at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in 1953. Kidd discovered that the blood serum of healthy guinea pigs killed leukemia and a few other types of cancer in mice. A few years later Dr. John D. Broome of Texas figured out why. Guinea pigs have in their blood an enzyme called L-asparaginase, which destroys the amino acid L-asparagine. Normal cells generally manufacture their own L-asparagine, but leukemia cells are often unable to do so. They have to 'steal' their supply from normal cells.
So the idea arose of using L-asparaginase as a cancer treatment and it turned out to occasionally be dramatically effective. In 1967 Time magazine reported on the complete remission of one of the first patients to receive the drug:

"Nine-year-old Frank Hayes Jr. had been in the last stages of acute leukemia when Dr. Joseph M. Hill began giving him injections of the bacterial extract, L-asparaginase," Time reported. "Within a month, the boy's grotesquely swollen glands had shrunk, and analysis of his blood cells showed no active cancer" ("Cancer: Secret from the Guinea Pigs," Time, April 14, 1967).

Subsequent treatments were rarely as dramatic as this, but the drug was found helpful. As a result, to this day, L-asparaginase (now called Elspar) is part of the standard regimen for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) as well as some other rare tumors. The basic idea is to destroy as much of the circulating L-asparagine as possible, in order to starve the leukemic cells.

Most cancer cells, however, resemble normal cells in their ability to synthesize L-aspargine and so L-asparaginase has little activity on them. But for people with ALL and certain rare cancers eating a great many asparagus, with their abundant supply of L-asparagine, would seem to be a bad idea, especially if they are currently on a regimen containing Elspar. It would be counterproductive.

That said, I don't mean to denigrate that possibility that asparagus (like so many other plants) might some day be shown to contain helpful constituents. Last year, researchers in Nanjing, China reported the presence of a compound called Asparanin A from standard asparagus. It is "an active cytotoxic component," they said. Asparanin A arrests cell growth and also induces apoptosis (the most common form of programmed cell deaths) in human liver cancer cells. Asparanin A "shows promise as a preventive and/or therapeutic agent" against human liver cancer (Liu 2009). But this is a far cry from the claims of an asparagus cure that one finds circulating in viral fashion on the Internet these days.

Article #4:
Today I received in the e-mail a health tips item, and it was about the health benefits of asparagus, specifically, the health benefits of 'asparagus as a cancer cure'. I read through quickly, and the facts and stories presented got the better of me. I went further. I checked through the web on additional information about 'asparagus curing cancer', and whether there are contrary, or supplementary, information. And sure enough, I did find both. As it turned out, the e-mail is a hoax, and while there are truths contained in it, the danger is that there are also lies, or fabricated info stated. The e-mail is below, for your information.

Here are the debunking points that will render this e-mail a hoax, a fallacy, and while the arguments seem plausible, be wary when receiving e-mails such as this.

Richard R. Vensal, D.D.S., is an unknown guy. His name doesn't appear anywhere else, except in this hoax e-mail, or variations of it. Nobody knows whether he really is a cancer or nutrition expert, or if he holds any qualification at all.

The periodical in which this article was said to have been published, Cancer News Journal, is no longer existing. And while it did, it apparently devoted itself to "alternative" cancer therapies.

There are no peer-reviewed medical studies proving that eating asparagus alone prevents or cures cancer. Although asparagus has nutritional benefits, such as glutathione, protein (three amino acids: cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine), vitamin D, folic acid, the amount you get from eating asparagus is not sufficient to combat cancer alone. You still get the benefit, so eat your asparagus!

There are many other foods that offer the same, if not more, benefits, so why focus on asparagus alone? There is benefit with variety, and more so, the taste is improved, not to mention the synergized effect of a diet high in fiber, fruits and vegetables and low in fats and nitrates (salts), all of which will have maximum effect in combating cancer. Medical experts will usually recommend variations so as to conform to a balanced diet.

Finally, while it may help, dietary measures cannot replace a proper medical diagnosis and treatment of a disease, especially cancer.

Source: Blog May, 2009: Healthy Me-At Home and Away.

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