“Asparagus causes breast cancer.”
This proclamation came from my oldest daughter after I told her what was for dinner last night. The girls had been with their dad for 10 days and I had expected a challenging evening. I had been prepared for conflict, arguments over every unimportant detail. But I had not anticipated this.
The girls’ stepmother had breast cancer not long ago so it isn’t uncommon for me to hear about what causes breast cancer.
So I googled it. And it turns out this isn’t exactly true, although I can see how it could be interpreted that way.
The short story, from what I’ve read (which honestly isn’t all that much) is that there has been a study (possibly several) that have linked the amino acid asparagine with growth of tumors on mice. This amino acid is formed by the body from substances found in foods including asparagus, fish and potatoes.
I don’t know if my daughter saw this on the news. More likely it was discussed either directly with her or she overheard a conversation while she was at her dad’s. With this information I would agree that her stepmother should avoid these foods. There is no reason for a healthy 13 year old to avoid asparagus.
I reminded my daughter that information on the news or the internet is usually provided in a way to generate emotion in people. In this age of information overload and short attention spans it’s imperative for a journalist to grab the viewer from the first moment, draw them into their story and provide the “facts” in a way that will cause fear, anger, or other powerful feelings.
I believe the intention of the study was to understand the relationship between this amino acid and cancer so that doctors might be better able to treat their patients. I don’t believe it was designed to cripple the asparagus industry as it appears it might do based on the reaction I’ve seen.
So, before you or I make any rash decisions we should probably do some more research. It is probably perfectly fine to eat asparagus…at least until the next scientific discovery.
(I’m sorry Walt….this one just fit. I wasn’t even trying…)
This post is in response to the daily writing prompts Rash.