A new research shows Vitamin A could play a vital role in preventing the spread of prostate cancer cells and even help in curing the disease, reports Medical Xpress.

Scientists discovered the potential of Vitamin A to form a chemical acid, which may help in turning on certain genes within prostate cancer stem cells to prevent the growth of the disease. Vitamin A produces retinoic acid that carries out the process of avoiding the invasion of prostate cancer cells to the surrounding tissues, says the report. Carrots, green vegetables and liver are good sources of Vitamin A.

"Cancer arises from healthy cells going wrong. Certain controls can be turned off which allows the cancer to progress," professor Norman Maitland, Director of the YCR Cancer Research Unit in the Department of Biology at York, explained adding an example, "Normal cells gain the ability to grow and invade the surrounding tissues."

Professor Maitland found the growth of prostate cancer stem cells is elevated when "specific 'twin' genes" are put off. In this study, when scientists used retinoic acid to turn these genes back on, the cancer was found to be less aggressive.

"All-trans retinoic acid is already used treat another type of cancer called acute promyelomcytic leukaemia (APL) and has been hugely successful in improving survival rates," Maitland said. "For prostate cancer, our work suggests that retinoic acid would not need to kill the cancer stem cells, but simply switch them to a more treatable form. Our discovery suggests a clinical use of this compound to treat prostate cancer."

According to a recent report from Cancer Research UK, data from 2005-2009 showed that 81 percent of men in England survived prostate cancer for five years or more. In 2010, more than 10,000 people died of the disease and more than 40,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Maitland said the study explained the mechanism of Vitamin A preventing the growth of prostate cancer, which was unknown until now, can help in treating the disease more efficiently.

The study funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research at the University of York was published April 15, in the journal Oncogenesis.