High vitamin D confers protection against cancer, a large-scale study finds
A high plasma vitamin D level is associated with a low risk of total cancer. This is the main discovery of a study conducted by a team of researchers from National Cancer Center, Shiga University of Medical Science, and Fujirebio Inc. in Japan.
The study, titled "Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration and subsequent risk of total and site specific cancers in Japanese population: large case-cohort study within Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study cohort," appears in the BMJ.
Vitamin D is an important substance for human bodies. It is naturally present in specific foods, including fish, mushrooms, fortified milk, fortified orange juice, pork chops, and eggs. It is also produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. The health benefits of vitamin D have been well documented. Vitamin D not only promotes the body's absorption of calcium and bone growth but also plays a role in the immune system. A growing body of evidence suggests that vitamin D may have more significant functions than previously thought. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a variety of chronic conditions, such as breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, and depression.
Many studies have been made to define the functions of vitamin D. The physiological actions of vitamin D are mainly mediated by the vitamin D receptor (VDR)
, which is a member of the nuclear receptor family of transcription factors. Recent studies have indicated many variations to exist in the VDR gene, and vitamin D may exert its effect differently in the population.
The question is that most of the previous studies have been focused on European or American populations and relatively fewer studies have been focused on Asian populations. Now, the new study helps address this question, giving us a more comprehensive understanding of vitamin D's roles.
The primary goal of the new study is to assess the relationship between blood vitamin D level and the risk of overall and site specific cancer in a large cohort study. To accomplish this, the researchers analyzed data collected from a total of 33,736 participants. Plasma concentrations of vitamin D in the participants were measured by enzyme immunoassay. Factors such as gender were taken into consideration. After calculation and analysis, the researchers found that plasma vitamin D concentration was inversely associated with the risk of total cancer.
To conclude, the results imply that a higher circulating concentration of vitamin D is linked to a lower risk of subsequent cancer in the Japanese population. This adds to the growing body of evidence that vitamin D possesses protection against the risk of cancer. It is necessary to conduct more research to determine the optimal vitamin D concentration for cancer prevention.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Many cancer types are hard to treat for various reasons. Some health experts point out that more than 4 in 10 cancer cases could be prevented. Keeping a healthy lifestyle, avoiding exposure to cancer-causing substances, and taking anti-cancer vaccines are possible strategies for lowering the risk of developing cancer.
The new study indicates that raising a low vitamin D to a certain concentration may also confer protection against the risk of cancer. But, it must be pointed out that if the vitamin D level is too high, it can be harmful. So, more research is still needed to investigate vitamin D's effects at different concentrations.