Chemoprevention

Studies in cell culture and animal models have documented the capacity for natural and synthetic retinoids to reduce carcinogenesis significantly in skin, breast, liver, colon, cervical, prostate and other sites (Ross 1999). The mechanism of action responsible has not been fully elucidated, but several theories exist. It has been known since early in the 20th century that vitamin A deficiency can induce metaplastic changes to epithelial cells (De Luca et al 1997). Retinoic acid is thought to act asan inhibitor of carcinogenesis by interfering with promotion rather than with initiation, which may be blocked by inhibition of proliferation, stimulation of differentiation or induction of apoptosis (Niles 2000). Other research suggests it may also inhibit the final stage when malignant conversion of a benign tumour to a carcinoma occurs (De Luca et al 1997). © 2007 Elsevier Australia

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