The researchers - who have recently presented their findings at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Florida - suggest retinoic acid may have anti-cancer capabilities, and may act on early changes in cells that may develop as breast cancer.
The research centres on the role of a gene called RAR-beta, which the experts believe reacts with retinoic acid when the two come into contact with each other, resulting in retinoic acid's anti-cancer capabilities being activated.
In tests, the scientists examined human breast cells, which were separated into 'normal', 'transformed', 'invasive' and 'tumour' stages. When the 'normal' cells were exposed to retinoic acid for 15 days, they remained normal (that is, they didn't progress to the next stage of cancer). The 'transformed' cells - which would normally progress to the 'invasive' stage - remained unchanged when in contact with retinoic acid. But there was no stopping the progression of the 'invasive' and 'tumour' cells, which both progressed to solid masses.
The research could lead to promising treatments for the early stages of cancer, the experts claim.
Don't like carrots? Retinoic acid is also found in sweet potatoes, as well as green leafy veg, mangoes, papayas and apricots.
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