Can vitamin A stop cancer before it starts?

Natural Health News -? A derivative of vitamin A, known as retinoic acid, found abundantly in sweet potatoes and carrots, helps convert pre-cancerous cells back into normal cells and healthy breast, according to new research.

The research, published in International Journal of Oncology , could help explain why some clinical studies have been unable to see a benefit of vitamin A in cancer. According to investigators vitamin does not seem to change the course of cancer in every rule, only pre-cancerous cells, and works only to a very narrow dose.

Because the cells undergo many changes before they are fully aggressive and metastatic, the scientists used a model of progression of breast cancer consists of four types of cells each representing a different stage of breast cancer : normal, precancerous, cancerous and a totally aggressive model.

When the researchers exposed breast cell types from four to different concentrations of retinoic acid – one of the chemicals that the body converts into vitamin A -. They noted a strong change in the pre-cancerous


Not only pre-cancerous cells begin to look more like normal cells in their form, but also changed their genetic signature back to normal. The pre-cancerous cells had 443 genes that were either up or down regulated on their way to becoming cancerous. All these genes returned to normal levels after treatment with retinoic acid.

“It seems that retinoic acid exerts effects on cancer cells, in part, by modulating the epigenome,” said lead researcher Sandra V. Fernández, PhD., Associate Professor of Research Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University.

“We were able to see the effect of retinoic acid, as we were looking at four different stages of breast cancer,” says Dr. Fernandez. “It will be interesting to see if these results can be applied to patients.”

Interestingly, cells that were considered fully cancerous not respond at all to retinoic acid, suggesting that there may be a small window of opportunity for retinoic acid to be useful in preventing cancer progression. In addition, the researchers showed that only a concentration of retinoic acid (about 1 micromolar) produced the effects against cancer. Lower concentrations gave no change, and higher concentrations produced a smaller effect.

The next step will try to determine whether the required amount of retinoic acid can be maintained in an animal model, and if that concentration will have the same effects observed in cells in the laboratory. If these studies show the same effect, the next step would be to check if these benefits are also valid in humans.

About retinoids

What we call Vitamin A consists of a mixture of molecules called retinoids. Retinoic acid produced in the body from the retina, which is one of the retinoid compounds of vitamin A.

Retinoids have long been in the spotlight as potential anti-cancer compounds and anti-aging. Can be taken as supplements in both natural and synthetic forms, get essential nutrients like vitamin A through diet is probably the best way to get what your body needs.

carotenoids, such as beta-carotene can be converted into retinoids in the body. Good vegetable sources include vegetables and red fruits and sweet oranges such as potatoes, squash, carrots, pumpkins, melons, apricots, peaches and mangoes.

One of the richest sources of animals of retinoids is beef liver. Other animal foods also provide retinoids such as eggs, cod liver oil, shrimp, fish, fortified milk, butter, cheddar and Swiss cheese

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