Thanks to the a recent study into mice and the impact a chemical compound called asparagine people have been frantically searching for answers as to whether they should give up asparagus. The study in the journal Nature suggested the compound, found in asparagus, may help develop breast cancer in the body.
Of course, searches for whether asparagus causes cancer and asparagus breast cancer have risen as a result. The truth is a little more complicated, however.
What was the study?
For one, the research was done using mice - not humans, at least not yet. While results can be an indicator as to what could happen in humans, scientists know that animals don't always follow the same pattern as humans when it comes to diseases.
Second, asparagine wasn't found to cause cancer - even with the mice. The compound made it spread more quickly, but it didn't cause it.
Should I give up asparagus?
More research is needed into the effect of asparagine. If further research shows the same impact on humans then maybe (and that's a big maybe) it could lead to some new ways to treat breast cancer.
It could show ways to block production of asparagine in the body, or patients could limit it in their diet.
Where is asparagine found?
The chemical compound is in a few things, and it's naturally in the body. It's in asparagus, but it's also in other foods we eat. Protein-rich foods like beef, poultry, eggs, fish, dairy and some seafood are all included.
It's also in potatoes, nuts, legumes, seeds, soy and whole grains. Levels of asparagine are low in fruit and vegetables - except asparagus.
Should I change my diet?
No, at least not yet.
"At the moment, there is no evidence that restricting certain foods can help fight cancer, so it's important for patients to speak to their doctor before making any changes to their diet while having treatment," Cancer Research UK's head nurse Martin Ledwick said in a statement.
So for now, don't change your diet purely based on the results of this study.