Vitamins may turbo boost chemo

Vitamin A may significantly increase the success of chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, according to new research.

A vitamin blast might help fight one of the deadliest forms of cancer, according to new research in mice and cells. British researchers found that a high dose of vitamin A could make chemotherapy more successful in treating pancreatic cancer.

With the highest mortality rate of all major cancers, pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers for which survival has not improved substantially over nearly 40 years. Ninety-four percent of patients die within five years of diagnosis, with the average life expectancy after diagnosis just three to six months. About 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease this year, according to the Hirshberg Foundation of Pancreatic Cancer Research.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy alone are relatively unsuccessful in treating the disease, according to a release from the University of London, where the new research was conducted. "This is the first time that we have combined vitamin A with chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, lead researcher Hemant Kocher,MD, from QMUL's Barts Cancer said in the release. “The results are so promising that we're now taking this into a clinical trial…This could potentially be applicable to other cancers because if we try to understand the cancer as a whole, including its surrounding tissue, we may be able to develop new and better treatments." The new technique targeted stromal cells, which are cells that surround cancer cells and play a major role in their growth.

Previous research has also suggested the power of vitamin D in the fight against pancreatic cancer.

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