Eating Asparagus Does Not Cure Cancer

Foto: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

Original article (in Slovenian) was published on 10/6/2024; Author: Tina Geč

Treating different types of cancer with the same drug, or with asparagus is not possible because of how diverse the disease is, Joe Schwarcz, director of the Office for Science and Society at McGill University in Canada, explained in 2017.

On August 31, 2018, Facebook page Energy and health published several claims about the positive effects of asparagus on curing cancer. Among other things, they claimed that the first signs of improvement usually appear after two to four weeks of asparagus therapy.

The post was shared by more than 19 Facebook users this month alone and by more than 8,700 since it was published. Similar posts has been published in various Facebook groups, for example in 2012 in the group A World Without Cancer.

The author of the post allegedly based their claims on a 1979 article published in the Cancer News Journal and a discovery by Richard R. Vensal, a supposed doctor of dental medicine, that asparagus could cure cancer. However, there is no information about a Richard R. Vensal, either online or in scientific literature.

The Facebook user further illustrated the success of asparagus in curing cancer with an example of a person with Hodgkin lymphoma (a cancer of the lymphatic system) and people with lung, skin and bladder cancer who were said to have recovered within a year after starting to eat asparagus.

The credibility of these cases was questioned in 2017 by Joe Schwarcz, director of the Office of Science and Society at McGill University in Canada, who warned that these conditions are not treated in the same way. He pointed out that it is impossible for a single drug, or asparagus, to be effective against such a wide variety of cancers.

The American Institute for Cancer Research website warns that claims about the medicinal effects of asparagus are the result of misinterpretations and inflated results of laboratory studies: “Statements you see proclaiming asparagus as a protector against cancer often reflect anti-tumour effects of asparagus extracts in cell culture or rodent studies. These studies don’t indicate effects in humans.”

The credibility of these claims about asparagus was verified last August by AFP Belgrade, which together with Oštro participates in the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO). As Doru Paul, an oncologist at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in the US, explained to the portal, the claims about the benefits of asparagus for cancer patients are not supported by science.

The Facebook page Energy and Health responded to our findings, but not on their merits. They stressed that this was merely a repost.

The post about the positive effects of asparagus therapy on curing cancer is not based on scientific evidence and is therefore considered pseudoscience according to the methodology.

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