Researching this topic is interesting but frustrating at the same time! There seems to be an almost viral attempt to push the concept that asparagus cures cancer on all of the search engines. The opening line of most articles starts out:

According to the National Cancer Institute, Asparagus is the highest tested food containing glutathione, one of the body’s most potent cancer fighters…

I never found this quoted article by the National Cancer Institute using Google. There were several articles about the asparagus cancer link as “urban legend” or as a “fact or fiction” topic. The rumor or link seems to start sometime in 2006. Conclusions ranged from asparagus as “wonder food” and cancer cure to cautionary articles warning cancer patients not to eat too much asparagus because it is high in glutathione which, in some cases, can inhibit the effectiveness of certain chemotherapies. I can find preliminary studies of asparagus and glutathione as far back as 2002. Most articles are positive, often referring to asparagus as nature’s highest source of anti-cancer glutathiones.

My conclusion? Who knows! As with most foods and supplements it remains difficult to quantify benefits or results. Worse yet, optimum doses are rarely clinically tested or available.

My advice? Feel good, eat asparagus in moderation (most viral sites promote eating or drinking cooked asparagus, either hot or cold) and keep smiling! Pat

2 thoughts on “More About Asparagus Fighting Cancer

  1. Not totally sure but it is my understanding that the “Glutathione Inhibits Some Chemotherapy” thinking has been debunked.

    When one group started studies on GSH, they found an increase around cancer cells. They got the logical idea to inhibit GSH in cancer patients.

    Unfortunately on making it to the first level of clinical trials it was found to increase cancer growth and morbidity.

    Back to the drawing board, it was discovered that glutathione protects any normal cells but helps chemo to destroy cancer cells.

    There is actually a US patent for one form of glutathione boosting supplement. In the Physicians Desk Reference where it is listed, there is no indication of any chemo where it should not be used or limited in use.

    Again, I may be wrong but it is my understanding that some doctors will prescribe almost twice the recommended dose (off label use) and are finding more drastic benefits.

    One important thing about glutathione. It is poorly absorbed in the gut. This means that the best way to get it is to boost the bodies ability to manufacture it.

    Asparagus just happens to have two forms of the precursor, Cysteine.

    Cysteine is fragile so cooking and especially cooking at high temperatures will destroy it.

    There is an interesting study on asparagus and Tylenol toxicity at It does work.

  2. Interesting that most “viral” web articles stress it is important to cook the asparagus. That seems at odds with your point about heat damaging the ability of glutathione/cysteine to work effectively. Thanks for taking the time to respond and participate- Pat

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