Cancer: A disease where cell division is abnormal and uncontrolled, leading to destruction of body tissues by spreading and invading to other body parts. There are many treatments available for cancer, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy and surgery. But above all, can single vitamin, like vitamin D can prevent of cure cancer?
Vitamin D also known as calciferol, is a lipid-soluble prohormone that is vital for the maintenance of bone and muscle health by promoting the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphate.
Many studies have demonstrated that Vitamin D has multiple effects on biological processes regulating calcium and phosphorus metabolism as well as effects on cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, immune regulation, genome stability, and neurogenesis. There is a strong link between vitamin D deficiency and a variety of chronic diseases, like; Osteoporosis, Diabetes, Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease and most importantly cancer. There are studies that have shown a link between vitamin D and cancer, where a higher dose of vitamin D might slow down the growth or prevent development of cancer by activating apoptotic pathway.
However studies done by Shao et al., concluded that higher circulating concentrations of 25(OH)D were associated with a lower risk of breast cancer incidence. While studies by Manson, JoAnn E., et al. and Scragg, Robert, et al., in which subjects were administered with cholecalciferol, supplements with vitamin D did not render any change or showed any effect on cancer when compared with placebo. Over all results from both papers were found to be unsatisfactory, and it was difficult to predict the role of vitamin D in association with cancer.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis by Goulão, Beatriz, et al., they did not find any evidence which might suggest that vitamin D supplementation prevent/reduce the risk of developing cancer. The benefits of vitamin D supplementation and effects are uncertain, however there are other on going clinical trails which are working on higher dose of vitamin D.
Effects of vitamin D supplementation depend on the type of cancer, at which stage it is, the progression, gender and age. On the brighter side, vitamin D has other benefits like keeping bones and teeth healthy, reducing the risk of diabetes, keeping immune system healthy, helping in reducing depression and supporting weight loss. So its better to keep the levels of vitamin D in check in order to live a healthy life. To understand what effect vitamin D has on cancer and over all health, new trials need to be conducted with optimum dose, how long it is needed to be taken and most importantly when to start taking the supplements. There are many questions and lot of research is required, and someday we might have doctors who may prescribe vitamin D for cancer patients.
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Basit, S. “Vitamin D in health and disease: a literature review.”British journal of biomedical science 70.4 (2013): 161-172.
Goulão, Beatriz, et al. “Cancer and vitamin D supplementation: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 107.4 (2018): 652-663.
Manson, JoAnn E., et al. “Vitamin D supplements and prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease.” New England Journal of Medicine 380.1 (2019): 33-44.
Shao, Theresa, Paula Klein, and Michael L. Grossbard. “Vitamin D and breast cancer.” The oncologist 17.1 (2012): 36-45.
Scragg, Robert, et al. “Monthly high-dose vitamin D supplementation and cancer risk: a post hoc analysis of the vitamin D assessment randomized clinical trial.” JAMA oncology 4.11 (2018): e182178-e182178.