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Vitamin A 'makes prostate cancer more susceptible to chemotherapy'
Cancer stem cells are more likely to survive if person has low levels of vitamin AVitamin A is found naturally in oily fish, milk, cheese and eggs



13:40 GMT, 5 September 2012

Grilled salmon is a good source of Vitamin A. The vitamin makes cancer cells more susceptible to chemotherapy

Grilled salmon is a good source of Vitamin A. The vitamin makes cancer cells more susceptible to chemotherapy

A link has been found between prostate cancer and low levels of
vitamin A.

Researchers hope the discovery will give a better understanding of how vitamin A affects cancer
cells and lead to the development of new medicines.

The team from The University of York is being led by Professor Norman Maitland.

Prof Maitland said they had discovered that a derivative of vitamin A, known as retinoic acid, causes a change in prostate cancer cells which makes them far more susceptible to treatment.

Prof Maitland said: 'We are trying to find how it works at a the level of the cancer cell.

'If you have low vitamin A, the cancer stem cells are more likely to survive and, split but if you have more vitamin A you can kill them. It makes them more susceptible to chemotherapy.'

According to the NHS, foods high in vitamin A include liver, cheese, eggs, oily fish such as mackerel, milk and yogurt.

Last year, Prof Maitland and his team were awarded 2.15m by Yorkshire Cancer Research, enabling them to continue their work.

The charity says nearly 41,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK, and although about 80 per cent survive for five years or more, 10,000 men die annually.

Prof Maitland argues that some therapies have previously been misused in cancer treatments, but that used in lower doses they could be a realistic treatment option.

He said: 'Doctors have been using vitamin A to kill cancers but we should be using it to modify the cancer cells, ie set them up to be killed.'

While the study is not linking a dietary intake of the vitamin with a reduction in prostate cancer, Prof Maitland said people with high levels of vitamin A were easier to treat successfully and that vitamin A could be gained from a person’s diet.