Vitamin D Improves Bowel and Skin Cancer Survival

Higher levels of vitamin D may help improve survival for both skin and bowel cancer patients, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The first study followed over 1000 bowel cancer patients for around nine years. Using information gained about sunlight exposure, skin type, body-mass index, and vitamin D intake from food and supplements, researchers estimated the amount of vitamin D in patients' blood at the time of diagnosis.

The results showed that those with higher levels of vitamin D after being diagnosed with cancer were 50 percent less likely to die from the disease, compared with those with lower scores. Study author, Kimmie Ng, stated, “our study shows that levels of vitamin D after colorectal cancer diagnosis may be important for survival. We are now planning further research in patients with bowel cancer to see if vitamin D has the same effect and to investigate how vitamin D works with molecular and genetic pathways in the cell to fight cancer.”

The second study found that melanoma patients with the lowest levels of vitamin D in their blood at the time of diagnosis was 30 percent more likely to suffer a relapse of the diseased than those with the highest levels. The researchers also found that patients with higher levels of vitamin D have thinner tumors at diagnosis.

Senior author, Julia Bishop, said, “It’s common for the general public to have low levels of vitamin D in many countries. Melanoma patients tend to avoid the sun as sunburn is known to increase the risk of melanoma. We use sunshine to make vitamin D in the skin, so melanoma patients’ levels of vitamin D may be especially low.”

Director of health information at Cancer Research UK, Sara Hiom, advised, “Both of these studies support the theory that higher levels of vitamin D can improve the chance of surviving cancer. The key is to get the right balance between the amount of time in the sun and the levels of vitamin D needed for good health.”


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