Recent research suggests that Vitamin D could potentially reduce the risk of dying from cancer. This implies that regular exposure to sunshine and supplements could help save lives.
A study conducted by Michigan State University and Hurley Medical Centre which involved almost 80,000 adult participants found a link between taking a supplement for at least 3 years and a drop in mortality from all cancers. It saw a 13% drop in deaths. The study highlighted the potential use of Vitamin D supplements for the primary prevention of cancer. However, it is important to note that it does not have a role or an effect on cancer incidence. (1, 2)
This line of thinking is linked to a rise in Vitamin D Deficiency in society. Due to a change in lifestyles and diet in the last few decades, people are not getting their necessary dose of Vitamin D. It is an issue that has become more prevalent with some research suggesting that 3 out of 4 adults suffer from vitamin deficiency.
Dr Tarek Haykal, the lead researcher from Michigan State University, found the results promising and believe General Practitioners should recommend supplements to support cancer patients.
“The take-home message is that vitamin-D might carry a benefit for the cancer population. Patients who received vitamin-D supplementation for at least three years in any form had significantly lower cancer-related deaths”.
This study has been supported by other research, focusing on Vitamin D Deficiency and its links to cancer and cancer mortality.
A similar study by the Madrid University Hospital saw that taking a daily pill alongside a Satin led to a 38% drop in deaths from prostate cancer. Scientists said these results were due to effects independent of the Vitamin D and Satin. This suggests that both the medication and the vitamin supplement increases patients’ chances of survival.
An additional study by Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute investigated the link between Vitamin D Deficiency and pancreatic cancer mortality.
Dr Shifeng Mao, of the Allegheny Network Cancer Institute, sees these results are due to the change in lifestyles, that people are unable to get sufficient sunshine.
“People spend significant amount of time at work in a concrete building and have much less time for leisure, let alone being exposed to nature and sunlight, so Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent.” (2)
These studies and more were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) annual conference in Chicago. This line of inquiry into Vitamin D Deficiency and cancer survival is supported by other research into supplements and other illnesses.
Unfortunately, these studies do not conclusively reveal why Vitamin D may help patients survive cancer. Some believe that regular, daily supplements can enhance the body’s immune response and reduce the ability of tumour cells from multiplying. However, this is not definitive and further research is needed.
- Journal of Clinical Oncology - Role of vitamin D supplementation for primary prevention of cancer: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
- The Telegraph - Vitamin D supplements can cut risk of dying from cancer, scientists find
- The University of Harvard, T.H. Chan School of Public Health - Vitamin D & Health