Cancer warning: The vitamin deficiency found in ‘three-fourths’ of diagnosed patients
Sarah Harding: Dr Hilary outlines breast cancer symptoms
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Cancer occurs when the body loses control of the cells in the body, which divide and multiple at breakneck speed. Certain vitamins have demonstrated an ability to decrease tumour invasiveness and propensity to metastasise, thereby reducing the risk of mortality. A deficiency in vitamin D is three times more likely to be found in patients with advanced cancer.
Cell growth needs to be regulated for the proper functioning of organs, and any interference with this regulation can result in cancer.
The disease, which kills approximately 6.7 million people each year, does not yet have a cure, but treatments have improved survival rates.
In early research, scientists discovered that more than three-fourths of people with a variety of cancer hallow levels of vitamin D, and the lowest levels were associated with more advanced cancer.
The nutrient is found in some foods, such as fatty fish, milk and fortified cereals, but it can also be obtained through exposure to sunlight.
There is conflicting evidence surrounding the link between low vitamin D levels and cancer risk.
While some studies have linked the deficiency to the progression of cancer, others have found no evidence of this.
Early laboratory studies have suggested that the nutrient has anti-tumour properties, which it confers by regulating the genes involved in the multiplication and spread of cancer cells.
In an early 2011 study, researchers looking at 160 men and women with cancer assessed their vitamin D levels through blood samples.
The most common diagnoses were breast, prostate, lung, thyroid and colorectal cancers.
Among the sample, 42 percent had vitamin D insufficiency, and an additional 32 percent had vitamin D deficiency.
WebMD reported: “The average level of vitamin D was about 24 ng/mL.
“People with levels below 24 ng/mL were nearly three times more likely to have stage III cancer than those with higher vitamin D levels.”
Further research has determined that a deficiency in vitamin D may promote the spread of some progression and metastasis of breast cancers.
Cancer Research UK points out, however, that there is insufficient good evidence to link low levels of vitamin D to cancer.
“But vitamin deficiency can cause other health conditions, including rickets in children and bone problems in adults,” says the health body.
“Vitamin D supplements are useful to prevent some health conditions. But there’s not enough evidence that taking them also reduces the risk of cancer.”
Symptoms of deficiency can include muscle weakness, pain, fatigue and depression.
While these complications can easily be avoided by getting the nutrient through sun exposure and diet, supplements may be necessary during the winter months.
Supplementation with vitamin D, however, should not be initiated without the approval of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
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