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Vitamin D improves cancer survival

Patients with breast and colorectal cancer who have higher levels of vitamin D at the time of diagnosis may have a better chance of surviving their disease, say researchers.

In search of another good reason for increasing your vitamin D intake? Here is one: Researchers have just published a scientific review demonstrating that people with breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and lymphoma (malignant tumors that arise in the lymph nodes or in other lymphoid tissue) are more likely to survive if their vitamin D status is high at the time of diagnosis. The research is conducted by scientists from Shanghai’s Institute for Nutritional Sciences and other Chinese universities and is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Significantly reduced mortality

By reviewing 25 studies and a total of 17,332 cancer patients the researchers found that higher vitamin D levels were associated with significantly reduced cancer-specific mortality in patients with colorectal cancer and lymphoma, while high vitamin D levels were linked to improved disease-free survival patients in patients with breast cancer or lymphoma. Less evidence was found in people with lung cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma, or Merkel cell carcinoma, yet the data was positive. In the majority of the studies patients were tested for vitamin D status prior to undergoing any cancer treatment.

Better general health

While the Shanghai research team speculated that cancer patients with higher vitamin D levels had better survival chances because of better general health, it did not know whether it was a direct result of vitamin D or if circulating vitamin D was merely a biomarker for the health status of the patients.

“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,” one of the study authors, Dr. Hui Wang, is quoted as saying. “Physicians need to pay close attention to vitamin D levels in people who have been diagnosed with cancer.”

Kilde: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (elektronisk publikation: doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-4320).

Sources of vitamin D

Sunlight is by far the best natural source of vitamin D. However, the synthesis of vitamin D in our skin is blocked if we use sunscreen with a factor above 7 or 8. Oily fish also contain large amounts of vitamin D. A good way of making sure to get enough of the nutrient is by taking D-vitamin capsules with biologically active vitamin D in an olive oil matrix for optimal bio-availability.

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