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High intake of vitamin A cuts cervical cancer risk

(foodconsumer.org) -- A meta-analysis published in Gynecologic Oncology suggests eating vitamin A rich foods or taking vitamin A supplements may help reduce risk of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is a malignant tumor formed in tissues of the cervix. The disease is expected to be diagnosed in about 12,170 women in 2012 in the United States and the disease is expected to kill about 4,220 women in the same year and the same country, according to the National Cancer Institute.

X. Zhang of School of Public Health Shandong University in Shandong, P.R. China and colleagues conducted the analysis and found women who had the highest intake of vitamin A were 41 percent less likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer, compared to those who had the lowest intake.

Similarly, the researchers also found women who had highest serum vitamin A concentrations were 40 percent less likely to develop cervical cancer, compared to those who had the lowest levels in the blood.

The analysis was based on data from 12,136 women enrolled in 11 studies on dietary vitamin A and four studies on blood vitamin A levels and their associations with risk of cervical cancer.

Specifically, the highest intake of retinol, carotene and other carotenoids was associated with 20%, 49%, and 40% reduced risk of developing cervical cancer, compared to the lowest intake.

And the highest serum levels of retinol and carotene was associated with 14 percent increased risk and 52 percent reduced risk of cervical cancer, compared to the lowest serum levels.

It is unknown why high retinol intake was correlated with reduced risk while the high serum levels of retinol were linked to increased risk of cervical cancer.

Overall, however, the study suggests eating vitamin A rich fruit and vegetables and or taking vitamin A supplements, which help maintain high levels of serum vitamin A, may reduce risk of cervical cancer.

Vitamin A is found high in sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collards, and butternut squash among other foods.

A study published in International Journal of Cancer suggests eating large amounts of fruits and vegetables help reduce risk of invasive cervical cancer, and probably in-situ carcinoma as well.

González C.A. and colleagues from Catalan Institute of Oncology, Barcelona (ICO-IDIBELL), Spain conducted the study and found fruit and vegetables prevented invasive cervical cancer better than in-situ carcinoma.

The study found each additional 100 grams of fruit per day was correlated with 17 percent reduced risk of invasive cervical cancer whereas each additional 100 grams of vegetables was linked to a 15% reduction in the risk.

Specifically, González C.A. and colleagues found eating leafy vegetables, root vegetables, garlic, onion, citrus fruits, vitamin C, vitamin E, and retinol helped prevent invasive cervical cancer.

However, they did not see any associations between beta-carotene, vitamin D, and folic acid and risk of invasive cervical cancer.