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Can vitamin A quash colon cancer?

Can vitamin A quash colon cancer?
Vitamin A may re-activate a gene that halts the growth of colon cancer cells, according to new Swiss research.

Notoriously resistant to treatment, colon cancer kills nearly 50,000 Americans every year, according to the American Cancer Society. A recent study reveals a promising treatment that comes not in the form of toxic chemo, but rather in the form of a vitamin.

Swiss scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne conducted research that suggests the promising power of vitamin A to prevent cancer cells from growing.

When a patient with colon cancer undergoes chemo, most of the cancer cells die off. But the insidious genetic mutations that caused the cancer in the first place can survive—sort of like deadly cockroaches scurrying about after a nuclear war. These cells block a gene called HOXA5, which usually throws the brakes on the growth of cancerous cells.

The scientists found that vitamin A re-activated HOXA5, blocked the progress of tumors and normalized the tissue. It worked in mice. And it worked in humans. The results were published in the journal Cancer Cell.

The new study suggests that patients who may benefit from this well-tolerated treatment can be identified based on their expression pattern for the HOXA5 gene, according to a release about the research from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne. The authors note that the therapy “could be significantly effective against colon cancer, not only for treatment of existing disease but also as a preventive measure in high-risk patients.”

Earlier this year, researchers found that the combo of curcumin and boswellia may act together to fight colon cancer. Results of that study were published in Cancer Prevention Research.

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