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Can Vitamin D Help in the Fight Against Cancer?


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1/15/2015
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New research shows that there is a particular vitamin that is especially helpful in the fight against cancer. Experts are urging people to ensure that they get this vitamin daily, and most Americans have low levels of this vitamin.

CBS news reports on this new study. The data shows that vitamin D is linked to helping in staving off cancer, particularly colon cancer.

Researchers found that patients with the proper or high levels of vitamin D in their bodies were less likely to have cancer. And if they did get cancer they were more likely to be able to have a strong fight against it. Experts found that vitamin D gives a better response to chemotherapy and better targets anti-cancer drugs. Patients with low levels of vitamin D did not have as good of a response to cancer therapy.

Researchers said patients with high levels of vitamin D survived one-third longer than patients with low levels of vitamin D. What were the results?

Patients with good vitamin D levels survived an average 32.6 months, compared with 24.5 months, according to the researchers.

“The report, scheduled for presentation this week at the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco, adds more weight to suspicions that vitamin D might be a valuable cancer-fighting supplement. However, colon cancer patients shouldn't try to boost vitamin D levels beyond the normal range, one expert said,” according to CBS.

When did this research start?

Experts have been trying to figure out the ways that vitamin D levels affect different cancers. For many years researchers have investigated vitamin D as a potential anti-cancer tool, but none of the results have been strong enough to warrant a recommendation until now.

How was the study conducted?

For this study, researchers measured blood levels of vitamin D in 1,043 patients who were enrolled in a phase 3 clinical trial. They used this information to compare three first-line treatments for newly diagnosed, advanced colon cancer. Every one of the treatments used chemotherapy combined with the targeted anti-cancer drugs bevacizumab and/or cetuximab.

CBS reports, “Vitamin D is called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because human bodies produce it when the sun's ultraviolet rays strike the skin. It promotes the intestines' ability to absorb calcium and other important minerals, and is essential for maintaining strong, healthy bones, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. But vitamin D also influences cellular function in ways that could be beneficial in treating cancer. For example, she said it appears to reduce cell growth, promote the death of diseased cells, and inhibit the formation of new blood vessels to feed cancerous tumors.”

Which people were less likely to have proper/high vitamin D levels?

Certain types of cancer patients tended to have lower vitamin D levels according to the authors of the study. These included people whose blood samples were taken in the winter and spring months, those who live in the northern and northeastern states, older adults, African Americans, overweight or obese people, and those who had lower physical activity.

People with higher vitamin D levels were found to have another benefit – longer life.

CBS explains, “The patients were divided into five groups based on vitamin D levels, ranging from low to high. After adjusting for prognosis and healthy behaviors, the researchers found that patients in the group with the highest levels of vitamin D lived about eight months longer on average than those in the group with the lowest levels.”

 



Category: Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose


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