Vitamin A For Your Eyesight And Your–Colon? How Retinoic Acid May Help Fight Colon Cancer

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We May Have A New Weapon In The Fight Against Colon Cancer, And It Comes From An Unexpected Place: Carrots

Growing up with the endless reruns of Bugs Bunny cartoons, as kids we were subjected to all manner of reminders: eating carrots is good for your eyesight. We were told in the old World War II propaganda cartoons that Allied pilots would always eat their carrots so they could better fly night missions; much hay was made about Bugs’ preternatural eyesight.

And, well, the truth is those were cartoons, weren’t they? They took a known fact–carrots contain high levels of Vitamin A and this vitamin is crucial for healthy eyesight as well as skin and immune support–and conflated this with the notion that you could significantly improve your eyesight by finishing the carrots on your dinner plate.

But now, new research is showing that carrots and Vitamin A may be a potential new ally in the fight against colorectal cancer.


The study, out of the Stanford University School of Medicine shows a link between retoinoic acid, a compound that the body derives from Vitamin A, and the suppression of colorectal cancer in both mice and humans.

“There’s a clear link in humans between inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis, and the eventual development of colorectal cancer,” said lead researcher Edgar Engleman, MD. “Retinoic acid has been known for years to be involved in suppressing inflammation in the intestine. We wanted to connect the dots and learn whether and how retinoic acid levels directly affect cancer development.”

Scientists have known for some time that retinoic acid is vital for many growth and development processes, as well as the fact of its complex relationship with inflammation that is related to immune system function and the gut biome. However research has been halting at best due to the fact that it degrades rapidly when exposed to light.

But this latest study may pave the way for methods to preent or treat colorectal cancer in humans, while furthering our knowledge of how chronic inflammation affects the body.

“It’s become very clear through many studies that chronic, smoldering inflammation is a very important risk factor for many types of cancer,” said Engleman. “Now that we’ve shown a role for retinoic acid deficiency in colorectal cancer, we’d like to identify the specific microorganisms that initiate these changes in humans.”

In the meantime, eat your carrots! Your eyes may not thank you but your colon will.

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