Vitamin A helps prevent colon cancer, according to new research from the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Colorectal (colon) cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. The lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is about 1 in 21 for men and 1 in 23 for women. In 2016, there is an expected 95,270 new cases of colon cancer to be diagnosed.
In a Philly.com piece, Dr. Edgar Engleman, professor of pathology and medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, said that scientists have known about vitamin A’s anti-inflammatory benefits for the intestines. He also said that him and his research team wanted to take these findings a step further and find out how these benefits affect colon cancer development.
In the study, the researchers found lower levels of retinoic acid, a component of vitamin A, in mice with colon cancer. They then discovered that when the mice were given an extra dose of retinoic acid, the development of the disease slowed down.
However, animal studies do not always produce the same results in humans.
Dr. Engleman explained:
“The intestine is constantly bombarded by foreign organisms. As a result, its immune system is very complex. We found that bacteria, or molecules produced by bacteria, can cause a massive inflammatory reaction in the gut that directly affects retinoic acid metabolism.”
This is not the first study to link vitamin A or retinoic acid to anti-cancer benefits. As the Linus Pauling Institute reported:
“Studies in cell culture and animal models have documented the capacity for natural and synthetic retinoids to reduce carcinogenesis significantly in skin, breast, liver, colon, prostate, and other sites.”
Another study from the Journal of Nutrition Biochemistry showed that vitamins A and C applied together to breast cancer cells was very effective against the spreading of breast cancer.
The study showing that vitamin A helps prevent colon cancer was published in the journal Immunity.
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