Monday, April 28, 2008

Vitamin gene 'may fight breast cancer'

About 10% of women in the West will develop breast cancer at some stage of their lives. But there is a gene which helps the body benefit from vitamin D may protect against breast cancer. It is believed that vitamin D protects against breast cancer and in some forms may even be used to shrink existing tumours. Vitamin D is essential for building strong bones because it helps the body to take up calcium from food, but it may also help protect against breast cancer because it has a role in cell growth and death. Researchers have discovered that some women have a different version of a gene involved with vitamin D called the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and may be less able to benefit from this protective effect.
Now scientists have identified this version of the gene, so it is possible to find out which women are at increased risk from breast cancer and tailor treatment to reduce this risk. Researcher Dr Kay Colston said: "Vitamin D normally binds to the VDR like a key fits into a lock. There is now evidence that vitamin D may protect against some cancers but this only works if vitamin D 'fits' the VDR." There has been a great deal of research into vitamin D and its effects on cancer, and some potential new cancer treatments are based on vitamin D. This is very important because it may help the doctors to identify more women who are at risk from breast cancer and gives them more clues on how to treat them."

Siau Yee Ho

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