For years, doctors and researchers have seen a tantalizing connection between vitamin D and cancer. Yet, that connection has always been just out of reach.
Studies have shown that people who live near the equator, with higher exposure to the sunlight that produces more of the vitamin, have lower incidences of certain cancers and even lower death rates.
And, lab and mouse models, researchers have watched as the sunshine vitamin has slowed cancer progression.
Yet, human research on vitamin D and cancer has found no clear positive link. And the VITAL study in 2018 even found that the vitamin didn’t have the power to reduce cancer incidence, although it might decrease the risk of cancer death.
Now, a brand-new look at that VITAL study data has once again delved into the connection between vitamin D and cancer and found good news for us all…
The risk of advanced or fatal cancer and vitamin D status
The VITAL study — a rigorous, placebo-controlled study that took place over a span of more than five years, looking at both vitamin D and omega-3 supplementation versus cancer — followed more than 25,000 participants.
And, this secondary analysis of the study’s research followed up on the possible reduction in cancer deaths with an evaluation of the risk of advanced (metastatic or fatal) cancer among participants who did or did not take vitamin D supplements during the trial. They even looked at how a person’s body mass index or BMI might play a role in the positive effects of D supplementation.
And here’s where the good news comes in…
The team found that vitamin D was associated with an overall 17 percent risk reduction for advanced cancer. In other words, simply taking vitamin D each day may lower your risk of ending up with cancer spread throughout your body by a full 17 percent.
That news gets even better, though, if you are not overweight…
In fact, once the team looked at only participants with a normal body mass index (BMI), they found a 38 percent risk reduction for developing advanced cancer!
Vitamin D, your weight and cancer
So why would your body mass influence whether or not the vitamin D you take has the ability to decrease your risk of advanced cancer?
Well, the team points out that while their findings could be due to chance, previous evidence backs up the fact that body mass may affect vitamin D action.
They say that both obesity and associated inflammation may decrease the effectiveness of vitamin D, possibly by reducing your vitamin D receptor sensitivity or even altering vitamin D signaling in your body.
Adding to that evidence is the fact that randomized trials of vitamin D in patients with type 2 diabetes have found greater benefits of vitamin D in people with normal weights and no benefit in people living with obesity.
So what does that all mean?
“Our findings, along with results from previous studies, support the ongoing evaluation of vitamin D supplementation for preventing metastatic cancer — a connection that is biologically plausible,” said Chandler. “Additional studies focusing on cancer patients and investigating the role of BMI are warranted.”
Vitamin D appears to be the best one to start with, especially since vitamin D deficiency has been reported to be as high as 72 percent among cancer patients, and because in previous research it’s been found that cancer survivors take their vitamins.
If you’re already fighting cancer, talk to your doctor about adding vitamin D to your daily regimen. Look for a quality vitamin D3 supplement and keep your weight at a healthy level to lower your risk of advanced cancer.
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