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Health Line

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Vitamin A May Help Prevent cancer

NEW YORK: A gene believed to suppress the growth of tumors may be switched off in the early stages of breast cancer, according to results of a new study. But a two-pronged treatment that includes a form of vitamin A may help prevent or treat cancer by reactivating the tumor-suppressing gene, researchers report.

A gene called RAR-beta-2, which is believed to stop tumors from growing, is switched off in several types of tumors, including breast cancer. Since substances called retinoids, which are similar in structure to vitamin A, are thought to interact with this gene, Dr. Martin Widschwendter from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and colleagues studied the effects of a retinoid called ATRA on breast cancer cells.

Suspecting that the RAR-beta-2 gene was deactivated by a process called methylation, the researchers treated several types of breast cancer cells with a substance that reverses this process, a demethylating agent. Then the- cells were exposed to ATRA.

In several of the 16 varieties of breast cancer cells tested, the RARbeta-2 gene was reactivated after the two-pronged treatment, the researchers report in the May 17th issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. In another line of cells in which the gene was already activated, or expressed, before the treatment, the expression increased. In other types of cells, the activation of the gene either did not increase or did not occur at all, according to the report.

As reported in Business Line News Service

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