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Vitamin D supplements: Fewer cancers and possibly a longer life expectancy

- plus large cuts in public healthcare

Vitamin D supplements: Fewer cancers and possibly a longer life expectancyLack of vitamin D is rather common. It increases the risk of infections and a host of serious diseases. German cancer researchers have estimated that if all Germans from 50 years and older took a daily vitamin D supplement it would prevent 30,000 cancer-related deaths annually and gain over 300,000 years of life. In addition to that, it would lead to huge reductions in public healthcare. The health-related and financial benefits of optimizing the population’s vitamin D status fits in nicely with previous research and calculations from Denmark.

An estimated one billion people worldwide lack vitamin D and the problem is therefore regarded as a pandemic. In recent years, scientists have focused on investigating whether supplementation with vitamin D in adequate quantities can affect the outcome of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses.
The risk of contracting cancer increases with age and cancers are still the leading cause of death. However, over the past year or so, no less than three meta-analyses have shown that vitamin D supplements are linked to a 13 percent lower mortality rate.
Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have extrapolated these dato to the German population and have come up with the following calculation: If all Germans aged 50 years or older took a vitamin D supplement it may prevent as much as 30,000 cancer-related deaths annually, while gaining over 300,000 years of life. It would also result in a massive reduction in public healthcare costs. It is also worth making a note of the fact that traditional cancer therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are tremendously costly, whereas vitamin D is inexpensive and without side effects.

Vitamin D deficiency is widespread in certain groups

Lack of vitamin D is particularly common among older people and cancer patients and the German scientists behind the new study have estimated the cost of giving vitamin D supplements to all people older than 50 years of age. They have then compared this expense with the cost of cancer therapies and found that with free vitamin D supplements, one could save around 254 million Euros annually.
Because vitamin D supplementation has such a positive impact on the prevention of cancer-related deaths and can potentially reduce public health expenditure so substantially, the scientists want to contemplate future strategies for dealing with the widespread vitamin D deficiency problems among older people. In countries like Finland, it is already common practice to enrich certain foods with vitamin D and the cancer mortality rate is 20 percent lower than in Germany. At the same time, there are other health benefits associated with getting enough vitamin D such as a lower mortality rate from respiratory diseases. The new German study is published in Molecular Oncology.

Danish scientists: Lack of vitamin D increases the risk of cancer and early death

Danish scientists from Herlev Hospital and the University of Copenhagen made a study earlier of 96,000 participants in which they found a link between genes, life-long low vitamin D content in the blood, and a 30 percent increase in mortality. With cancer mortality specifically, the increase was 40 percent. The scientists say that the big question is whether we should get our vitamin D from sun exposure, our diets, or from supplements. They also want to know when to initiate supplementation: During pregnancy, in the childhood, or in adulthood. The Danish study is published in British Medical Journal.

Vitamin D supplementation can save huge amounts of money

Vitamin is important for the immune defense, for the circulatory system, and for blood sugar levels. It also counteracts inflammation which is the common thread I most chronic diseases.
In 2016, Chief Physician Jens-Erik Beck Jensen from Hvidovre Hospital explained that the aggregate Danish health expenditure could be reduced by 15-16% by making sure that people had enough vitamin D in their blood. This would represent an annual savings of approximately DKR 30 billion.

  • Cancer is the leading cause of death in Denmark
  • Every third Dane gets cancer before the age of 75 years
  • Ever third cancer patient dies within five years of being diagnosed
  • More women than men get cancer
  • Ageing, smoking, and overweight increases the risk of cancer
  • Lack of vitamin D is an overlooked factor
  • One billion people worldwide are believed to be vitamin D-deficient


Tobias Niedermaier et al. Vitamin D supplementation to the older adult population in Germany has the cost-saving potential of preventing almost 30.000 cancer deaths per year. Molecular Oncology, 2021

German Cancer research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ). ScienceDaily February 10, 2021

Københavns Universitet. Lave niveauer af D-vitamin øger dødeligheden. Nyheder 2014

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