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Vitamin A in Milk, Cheese, Oil Fish May Kill Bowel Cancer Cells, Can Help Prevent Chemotherapy Relapses

( [email protected] ) Dec 15, 2015 01:37 PM EST
A new study found that bowel cancer cells can be killed off by Vitamin A. With this breakthrough finding, it is expected that the number of people suffering from relapses after chemotherapy can be reduced.
Milk for sale in a store in New York April 7, 2011. REUTERS

A new study found that bowel cancer cells can be killed off by Vitamin A. With this breakthrough finding, the number of people suffering from relapses after chemotherapy can be expected to reduce.  

Scientists from the École polytechnique federale de Lausanne found that bowel cancer cells can be killed and stopped from spreading just by consuming milk, cheese, and oily fish for these foods have high amounts of vitamin A. The prevalence rate for bowel cancer is significantly high, so this is a very welcoming news. In Britain for example, 40,000 new cases are being diagnosed with bowel cancer yearly, killing around 16,000. Also, one in every 20 British people can develop this cancer during their lifetime. Finding a possible effective prevention cannot be any timelier. 

According to the study published in the journal Cancer Cell, Vitamin A can trigger the formation of a protein that would kill off bowel cancer tumor cells. It is best used as a complement to bowel cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Under these procedures, patients are subjected to radiation to kill cancer cells. However, these treatments do not guarantee the removal of all cancer cells or prevent the growth of more cancer cells. Genetic mutations that caused cancer in the first place can still survive and then grow. A patient who underwent the treatments can suffer a relapse because of these surviving cells. 

Vitamin A can erode these remaining cancer cells after treatments by reactivating a protein called HOXA5.  According to Professor Dr Joerg Huelsken:, "Gastrointestinal cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Resistance to conventional therapies is frequent, and treatments are ineffective, which has been suggested to be due to residual cancer stem cells causing relapse." 

He added that "through an integrated approach we have identified a mechanism by which the Wnt pathway maintains stem cell traits required for metastasis formation. This involves repression of HOXA5, thus preventing cellular differentiation and promoting stem cell self-renewal."

"Retinoids can reverse the Wnt-mediated HOXA5 inhibition and block cancer growth in vivo," the professor explained. "Importantly, induction of HOXA5 is essential for this retinoid-induced differentiation therapy. This shows that colon cancer patients who may benefit from such a therapy should be identified based on their HOX expression pattern." 

According to the study, patients that would particularly benefit from this finding can be determined based on their expression pattern for the HOXA5 gene. This is why retinoid differentiation therapy could be significantly useful in treating those diagnosed with bowel or colon cancer or as a preventive measure in high-risk patients.

Mirror UK, however, claimed that apart from this therapy, vitamin A can be consumed by patients through diet composed of eggs, milk and oily fish. In contrast, an earlier study found that Vitamin C may not be as effective as fighting and preventing colon or bowel cancer as it was previously found. 

Tags : Vitamin A, colon cancer, bowel cancer