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Icon: Cancer Prevention Myth Busters

Cancer Myths Exposed

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Does Asparagus Cure Cancer?

AICR sheds light on some common beliefs about cancer causes and cures in this E-news edition. If you wonder about something you’ve heard, join us on June 10 at 3 pm ET for an online chat about diet and cancer myths and facts.

You want to make the right lifestyle choices for better health and lower cancer risk. But media hype about "superfoods" and Internet stories promoting cancer "cures" causes confusion about which choices are right.

AICR examines a few of these stories and beliefs to sort out fact from fiction.

The Claim: Taking a daily dose of pureed asparagus will cure cancer.

This Internet and email item offers a few testimonials and is supposedly based on a "doctor’s" 1979 journal article.

The Facts: No such article has been published in peer-reviewed research journals and our Internet searches uncovered no information on the origin of the article or the doctor.

However, asparagus can be a valuable part of a diet that reduces cancer risk.

  • Asparagus is an excellent source of folate,
  • According AICR’s expert report, foods high in folate may lower risk of cancers of the colon, pancreas and esophagus.
  • Asparagus also provides vitamin C and beta-carotene, and foods high in thses nutrients may offer additional cancer protection.

What to do: The false hope of these "cancer cure" or "miracle food" claims may prevent some from pursuing more effective treatments. Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian about these claims before pursuing them. As with most whole foods, however, you can enjoy asparagus roasted, grilled or lightly steamed as one part of a cancer-protective diet.

The Claim: Sugar feeds cancer.

Oncology dietitians report this as one of the most common claims they hear.

The Facts: All cells (including cancer cells) in our body use sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream for fuel. But that blood sugar comes from all carbohydrate foods, including healthful vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low fat dairy sources; some glucose is even produced within our bodies from protein. While avoiding sugar completely will not slow cancer growth, eating a lot of high sugar foods may mean excess calories in your diet which leads to excess weight and body fat. And excess body fat is linked to greater risk of several types of cancers.

What to do: Focus on maintaining a healthy weight. Choose a diet high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and low fat dairy with moderate amounts of animal protein; limit foods with a lot of added sugar and get plenty of exercise for healthy weight.

Wonder about any other claims? Send your questions to dietitian@aicr.org with the subject line "chat question" and we’ll answer as many as we can at the online chat on June 10 at 3 pm ET.


 

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