Cancer patients with higher levels of vitamin D tend to have better survival rates and remain in remission longer than those who are deficient in the vitamin, an analysis of more than two dozen studies has found.
The review, published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, suggests the effect was particularly strong among breast, colorectal cancer patients.
"By reviewing studies that collectively examined vitamin D levels in 17,332 cancer patients, our analysis demonstrated that vitamin D levels are linked to better outcomes in several types of cancer," said researcher Hui Wang, M.D., with the Institute for Nutritional Sciences at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China. "The results suggest vitamin D may influence the prognosis for people with breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and lymphoma, in particular."
The researchers examined the results of 25 separate studies that measured vitamin D levels in cancer patients at the time of diagnosis and tracked survival rates. In most of the research, patients had their vitamin D levels tested before they underwent any treatment for cancer. The study found even a slightly higher level of vitamin D levels was associated with a 4 percent increase in survival.
The body produces vitamin D after exposure to sunlight and absorbs it from certain foods. In addition to helping the body absorb the calcium and phosphorus needed for healthy bones, vitamin D affects a variety of biological processes.
"Considering that vitamin D deficiency is a widespread issue all over the world, it is important to ensure that everyone has sufficient levels of this important nutrient," Wang said.
"Physicians need to pay close attention to vitamin D levels in people who have been diagnosed with cancer."
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