According to study, vitamin D may reduce the risk of colon cancer, especially in women

    Abdulaziz Sobh

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    For a long time, it was promoted for its role in maintaining strong bones. Vitamin D may also be important in preventing colon cancer.

    New research from the American Cancer Society and other public health groups concludes that people with blood vitamin D levels above those recommended have a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer. The finding was particularly significant for women.

    The opposite can also be true: people with vitamin D deficiency have a higher risk of getting the disease.

    The new research project combines data from more than 12,000 people in Europe, Asia, and the US. UU

    "Participants who had vitamin D levels that were higher than recommended levels had a statistically significant 22 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer," said Marjorie McCullough, senior scientific director of the American Cancer Society.

    But some outside experts say more research is needed before doctors recommend vitamin D supplements specifically for the prevention of colon cancer.

    Dr. Zhaoping Li, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA, said the research is informative but does not prove that increased vitamin D levels prevent colon cancer. Instead, "this gives us a good reason to invest time and effort to see if vitamin D can have an impact on the incidence of colon cancer," Li said.

    "This is not the smoking gun," he said. Li did not participate in the latest study of the American Cancer Society.

    Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. UU And there has been a worrying increase in the number of young adults diagnosed with the disease.

    That's why the American Cancer Society recently reduced the recommended age to begin the colorectal exam from 50 to 45 years. It is one of the few cancers that can be prevented with screening tools such as a colonoscopy.

    But could vitamin D be another path to prevention? Dietary guidelines suggest that most adults get at least 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day. This new research finds that even larger amounts would offer stronger protection against colorectal cancer. However, the study authors caution that there is a limit to the apparent benefit.

    "It's worth noting that people who had the highest levels we observed did not continue to see a lower risk of colorectal cancer, so it seems to be this ideal place," McCullough said.

    However, it is not clear where that sweet spot is.

    True cancer prevention probably comes from multiple changes in lifestyle: exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and a healthy diet rich in fiber, as well as, yes, vitamin D.

    Li almost always recommends at least 1,000 IU per day. She said there is emerging evidence that vitamin D not only regulates calcium for bone health but can also affect the immune system and cell growth.

    Sunlight is the easiest way for the body to absorb D, but of course too much UV light can increase the risk of skin cancer. Experts say that the occasional exposure to the sun a short walk down the street or running to take a bus, for example, is sufficient in general.

    Vitamin D is also found in some foods: cod liver oil, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, egg yolks and fortified cereal, milk and orange juice.

    Experts do not suggest that everyone rush to their doctors to control their vitamin D levels.

    "People who have a higher risk of having lower levels are people who are never exposed to the sun, people who have dark skin who live in northern latitudes and who do not eat foods that are fortified with vitamin D and that They do not. "I like fatty fish," McCullough said.

    The American Cancer Society predicts that more than 140,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, and more than 50,000 will die from the disease.

     

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