Vitamin D could increase cancer patient survival rates

New research suggests that bowel and breast cancer patients with more vitamin D in their blood tend to have better survival rates and remain in remission for longer than those who are deficient.

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Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai analysed the results of 25 separate studies looking at vitamin D and cancer death rates. 17,332 patients were involved in the study, and they had their vitamin D levels measured before undergoing any cancer treatment.

Results showed that a 10 nanomole per litre increase in vitamin D blood levels was associated with a 4% increased chance of survival.

Scientist Professor Hui Wang, who lead the study, said: “The results suggest vitamin D may influence the prognosis for people with breast cancer, colorectal (bowel) cancer and lymphoma, in particular.”

There was less evidence of a link between vitamin D and lung cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, melanoma skin cancer, leukaemia, and Merkel cell carcinoma.

Vitamin D is vital for a wide range of biological processes in the body and is produced naturally when skin is exposed to sunlight. It can also be absorbed from certain foods – including fish, eggs, mushrooms and fortified cereals – as well as supplements.

A key focus of the study was a protein referred to as the vitamin D receptor. This is sensitive to the vitamin and found in nearly every cell in the body.

Professor Wang added: “Considering that vitamin D deficiency is a widespread issue all over the world, it is important to ensure that everyone has sufficient levels of this important nutrient.

“Physicians need to pay close attention to vitamin D levels in people who have been diagnosed with cancer.”

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Written by Tamara Marshall

Written by Tamara Marshall

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