Food by VICE

Cheese, Milk, and Fatty Fish Can Help Fight Colon Cancer

Any news is good news when it comes to genetic prevention—especially when that good news comes in the form of delicious Vitamin A.

by Nick Rose
Dec 16 2015, 3:00pm

Photo via Flickr user geishaboy500

What better way to fight cancer than with food?

Tomatoes, chili peppers, and, for the more adventurous, crocodile blood, have all been shown to combat specific forms of cancermany of which could be caused by eating other foods, like bacon and prosciutto.

READ: This 'Super Tomato' Could Help Fight Cance

Given the brutality of colon cancer, which can lie dormant in one's bowels for months before being detected, and can require extreme treatments like surgically removing entire portions of one's intestines, any news is good news when it comes to genetic prevention—especially when that good news comes in the form of delicious Vitamin A.

Colon cancer is notoriously difficult to treat because even after cancer cells are killed with radiotherapy or chemotherapy, they have a high propensity of growing back because they are encoded in highly aggressive underlying stem cells which are like genes-in-the-waiting.

But in light of recent research, it would seem that Vitamin A, found in delicious foods like liver, dairy products, and fish, as well as dark-coloured vegetables like kale, carrots, and red peppers, is highly effective at stopping the re-growth of cancer cells. By targeting a gene called HOXA5, researchers were able to block stem cells related to the spread, relapse, and metastasis of cancer cells.

READ: Chili Peppers Could Be the Secret to Killing Cancer

Published in this month's issue of Cancer Cell journal, the study found that treatment centered around Vitamin A retinoids had a very direct impact on the growth of colon cancer in animal cells.

"In mice that had colon cancer, the treatment with retinoids blocked tumor progression and normalized the tissue," researchers wrote in a press release. "By turning the gene for HOXA5 back on, this treatment eliminated cancer stem cells and prevented metastasis in the live animals. The researchers got similar results with samples from actual patients.

Despite current results being limited to mice, researchers insist that the findings could prove beneficial not just just for treatment in humans, but also prevention.

"The new study suggests that patients that may profit from this well-tolerated treatment can be identified based on their expression pattern for the HOXA5 gene," researchers added. "Retinoid differentiation therapy could be significantly effective against colon cancer, not only for treatment of existing disease but also as a preventive measure in high-risk patients."

So, there you have it, Vitamin A-rich foods like veal liver, ricotta, salmon, or braised carrots will make your bowels happy and healthy.

colon cancer