A vitamin A form called retinoic acid that is commonly found in sweet potatoes and carrots, can help turn breast cells showing cancerous potential back to a healthy state, researchers have found.
Writing in the International Journal of Oncology, Sandra V Fernandez, PhD, assistant research professor of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University, said vitamin A had not been shown to help those with breast cancer, but in a pre-state, could deliver benefits at particular doses.
"It looks like retinoic acid exerts effects on cancer cells in part via the modulation of the epigenome," she said.
"We were able to see this effect of retinoic acid because we were looking at four distinct stages of breast cancer. It will be interesting to see if these results can be applied to patients."
The in vitro study focused on four types of cells: Normal; pre-cancerous; cancerous; fully aggressive.
After retinoic acid was introduced the pre-cancerous cells looked more normal and their genetic signature reverted to a healthy one, with 443 genes reverting to a healthy state.
Fully cancerous cells did not respond to the retinoic acid.
The research was funded by Friends for an Earlier Breast Cancer Test and the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition.
International Journal of Oncology
‘All trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) induces re-differentiation of early transformed breast epithelial cells’
Authors: Maria Arisi, Rebecca Starker, Sankar Addya, Yong Huang, Sandra Fernandez.