A recent study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, suggest that vitamin D carries significant benefits other than just contributing to healthy bones. Researchers of the study looked at vitamin D supplements and their association to longer survival rates for people with cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is a leading cause of death in the U.S, ranked second to heart disease.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which helps the body absorb calcium. It is essential for good bone health. It also helps the immune, muscle, and nervous systems function suitably.
Vitamin D can be obtained through supplements and diet. Moreover, the body produces it when ultraviolet rays from sunlight encounter the skin. However, except you are getting about 15 minutes of sun exposure several times a week, you may not be getting sufficient for daily levels.
If taken for multiple years, vitamin D supplements may add years of life to those with cancer. In this study, researchers found that vitamin D, if taken for at least three years, could help individuals with cancer live longer.
Findings of the study
This study was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting. It looked at a population of nearly 80,000 people with cancer with an average age of 68 years and 10 randomized controlled trials. They focused on the usage of vitamin D supplementation and its impact on cancer risk.
The authors found that vitamin D supplementation was related to a significant decline of cancer-related death when compared to placebo. Using the database quest, they found that those using vitamin D supplements for at least 3 years had a 13% reduced risk of death from all cancers in contrast to placebo effects.
Though these results are encouraging, compared with placebo, vitamin D did not show a decrease in cancer occurrence. These benefits only came into play once cancer had already shown.
According to the researchers, vitamin D had an important effect on lowering the death risk among those with cancer. But unluckily it did not indicate any evidence that it could defend against getting cancer. Even though the primary data results are likely, specialists caution against its widespread use and that more study is required.
An effective approach to prevent deficiency and insufficiency of vitamin D is to get proper sun exposure. Furthermore, eating foods which contain vitamin D, and taking vitamin D supplement if recommended by your doctor can also help.
Future prospects of the study
The authors found that, while the information described is remarkable, there needs to be more analysis of whether cancer-related death was reduced for all cancer types, or for particular diagnoses, ethnicities, age ranges, etc., before seeing whether it should be used to lower global cancer mortality.
Vitamin D is certainly found in the environment and is many times supplemented in food. But its exact amount that’s needed to protect against death is still unidentified.
Summary: A recent study found that individuals recovering from cancer had a reduced risk of dying if they were taking supplements of vitamin D. Researchers report more study is required to confirm the results.