06/04/2011 10:08 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Eat Carrots To Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

Your mother may have told you to eat carrots to improve your eyesight, but Philadelphia-based researchers claim carrots may help reduce your breast cancer risk too.

carrots-retinoic-acid-breast-cancer Carrots contain a substance that may fight early breast cancer. Photo: Corbis

That's because they contain a substance called retinoic acid - a form of vitamin A - which many of us may recognise as a skin-rejuvenating nutrient, as it's often found in anti-ageing skin products.

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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