Why multiple myeloma patients should avoid eating asparagus. Who Knew?

Guest nutritional columnist, Danny Parker and I, have been receiving lots of questions about the plan he set-up for me to help enhance the performance of my RVD therapy.

I wanted to share some of those questions–and answers–with you over the next few days.

Here is one the answers to questions about the plan Danny forwarded me yesterday:

Norma Jean, Nick and Pat,

I know that there’s an urban legend that asparagus can “cure cancer,” but this is not true.

Moreover, it may actually help myeloma cells to flourish.

Asparagus contains the amino acid L-Asparagine (responsible for the curious smell of urine after ingesting asparagus) which myeloma cells need to scavenge as– unlike healthy cells– they cannot manufacture their own.

There is at least one Phase II clinical trial underway that uses L-Asparaginase (an anti-Asparagine enzyme) to reduce the available asparagine levels in the body to induce myeloma cell apoptosis:


From that website:  “L-Asparaginase is an enzyme that depletes L-Asparagine “an important nutrient for cancer cells resulting in cancer cell starvation and death. The drug used in this regimen ( PEG L-Asparaginase, ONCOSPAR®) is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is commercially available.”

While, I am not advocating L-Asparaginase (which has difficult side effects), it might be prudent to simply reduce L-Asparagine in the diet, of which asparagus is a major source:


There are other sources of  L-Asparagine in the diet, but asparagus– as the name implies– is a most concentrated source.

While reducing Asparagine in the diet may not translate into reducing that available in the body, I err on the side of caution. No reason to help those plasma cells– even possibly.

Throw them an anchor.

Thanks, Danny!  Tomorrow we will cover why taking L-Glutamine may not be a good idea for multiple myeloma patients, especially before, during or immediately after a stem cell transplant–or anytime melphalan is involved.

Until tomorrow, feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

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One thought on “Why multiple myeloma patients should avoid eating asparagus. Who Knew?

  1. Thank you so much for this invaluable information. I was just starting an asparagus routine when another myeloma survivor informed me of the potential danger. My numbers have recently started creeping up 11/2 years after transplant. This could have been devastating…

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