Now Vitamin A Said to Stop Pre-Cancerous Breast Cells From Turning Malignant

A couple of weeks ago we learned that Vitamin D might prevent breast cancer.  Now researchers are turning to a new letter in the alphabet.  They're saying that a derivative of Vitamin A, known as retinoic acid, found abundantly in sweet potato and carrots, helps turn pre-cancer cells back to normal healthy breast cells.

Wish we'd known that nine years ago, when my first pre-cancerous breast cells were found.

The vitamin doesn’t appear to change "the course of full-blown cancer, only pre-cancerous cells, and only works at a very narrow dose," according to newswise.com, reporting on the study.

Scientists created a model of breast cancer progression composed of four types of cells each one representing a different stage of breast cancer: normal, pre-cancerous, cancerous and a fully aggressive model.  

"When the researchers exposed the four breast cell types to different concentrations of retinoic acid – one of the chemicals that the body converts vitamin A into – they noticed a strong change in the pre-cancerous cells," newswise.com points out. Not only did the pre-cancerous cells begin to look more like normal cells in terms of their shape, they also changed their genetic signature back to normal.

All of the cell genes returned to normal levels after treatment with retinoic acid.

It sort of gives me the shivers to think that I might have been able to avoid radiation and major surgery, if only my pre-cancerous cells had waited!  

The cells, however, that were considered fully cancerous did not respond at all to retinoic acid, suggesting that there may be a small window of opportunity for retinoic acid to be helpful in preventing cancer progression.

Researchers are working on getting the exact right amount of the acid needed.  Lower concentrations gave no change, and higher concentrations produced a smaller effect.

So, should we all be stocking up on Vitamin A?  My recommendation: only if we receive the dreaded news that we have pre-cancerous or abnormal cells.  But now there's real hope.


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