Garden asparagus and cancer

Studies researching anti-tumor effects of asparagus officinalis compounds

Copyright © 2016 Healing Cancer Naturally

This page presents a number of research findings showing tumor-inhibiting and/or other cancer-fighting effects of compounds found in this popular vegetable. It has been created to add some scientific validation to "anecdotal" cancer healing testimonials ascribed to the consumption of asparagus (see Asparagus cancer recoveries and remissions) and to help counter the disdain with which such testimonials are so frequently viewed.

Scientifically validated research: asparagus officinalis and malignant disease

  • Anti-tumor activity of the crude saponins obtained from asparagus.

    Published in Cancer Letters in 1996, this study out of Rutgers University (New Jersey, USA) examined the ability of saponins as naturally found in asparagus shoots to inhibit the growth of human leukemia cells in vitro. Lower doses of the asparagus saponins were found to inhibit the growth and multiplication of the leukemia cells, while higher doses actually killed them. Additionally, synthesis of DNA, RNA and protein in the leukemia cells was inhibited, and in the former two the saponins' inhibitory effect was irreversible.
  • Two new acetylenic compounds from Asparagus officinalis.

    In this study published in the Journal of Asian Natural Products Research in 2016, Chinese researchers examined the cytotoxicity of two compounds found in garden asparagus against several human cancer cell lines.
  • Anticancer effects of deproteinized asparagus polysaccharide on hepatocellular carcinoma in vitro and in vivo.

    Another study out of China published in Tumour Biology in 2014. Researchers looked into the ability of a polysaccharide found in asparagus to inhibit the growth of the most common (as well as highly aggressive) type of liver cancer (which in itself is the most common malignancy of the digestive tract). Among other positive results, the asparagus compound was found to exert significant activity against hepatocellular carcinoma cells, including selective cytotoxicity.
  • Methanolic extract of white asparagus shoots activates TRAIL apoptotic death pathway in human cancer cells and inhibits colon carcinogenesis in a preclinical model.

    In a study published in the International Journal of Oncology in 2013, French researchers evaluated the anticancer activities of an asparagus extract on human colon cancer cells and their derived metastatic cells.

    Upon administation of the asparagus extract, the proliferation of both cell types was inhibited by 80% and cell death (apoptosis) was induced.

    Additionally, an animal model of colon carcinogenesis was used to evaluate the chemopreventive effects (ability to prevent disease) of Asparagus extract. Rats were given shots of a cancer-causing and nerve-damaging chemical compound into their abdomen. They then received asparagus extract via their drinking water on a daily basis. Seven weeks later, the colon of the asparagus-treated rats showed a 50% reduction in precancerous lesions.

    The full text of this study can be read at
  • Saponins extracted from by-product of Asparagus officinalis L. suppress tumour cell migration and invasion through targeting Rho GTPase signalling pathway.

    Researchers from China (by far the world's largest producer of asparagus) even looked into the therapeutic potential of the usually discarded (although rich in bioactive phytochemicals) inedible bottom part of asparagus shoots.

    What they found is that the saponins contained in this "waste product" inhibited the viability of breast, colon and pancreatic cancer cells in a concentration-dependent manner. Even more effectively, these saponins inhibited tumor cell migration and invasion (cell motility) and thus exerted potential inhibitory activity on tumour growth and metastasis. These findings could translate into using saponins from discarded asparagus stems as a supplement in cancer prevention and treatment.

    Published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 2013.
  • Asparanin A induces G(2)/M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells.

    Chinese researchers published this study in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communícations in 2009. Demonstrating that Asparanin A, a saponin extracted from asparagus, exerts cytotoxic activity and induces apoptosis in human liver cancer cells, the compound was shown to be a promising agent for liver cancer treatment and prevention.
  • Dietary Natural Products for Prevention and Treatment of Liver Cancer.

    A number of foodstuffs have shown therapeutic potential in both preventing and treating liver cancer, including asparagus. This review study (Nutrients, 2016) summarizes the active components of these foods and how they could affect the development of liver cancer.

More scientifically validated research can be found by searching the Pubmed database ( for the terms asparagus+cancer. Please note that Healing Cancer Naturally does not support animal experimentation.

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