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Study Shows 4% of Vitamin D Deficient Individuals Developed Cancer

Colorectal cancer was found to be the most common cancer among individuals with vitamin D deficiency, with liver, breast, and lung cancers following. A recent study analyzed 5,242 people from Taiwan with vitamin D deficiency and found that more than 4 percent of these individuals had developed cancer, with the cancer rate worsening as age increased.

The study, published in the Frontiers in Nutrition journal on Dec. 7, revealed that the cancer rate was higher among older populations. Individuals older than 65 with vitamin D deficiency had a new-onset cancer rate of 7.74 percent. Out of the 229 patients with cancer, colorectal cancer was the most prevalent, followed by liver, breast, lung, hematopoietic system, thyroid, cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancers, among others. The study also analyzed comorbidities using the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) score, and found that patients with a CCI score of more than three had “significantly higher” cancer incidence rates.

In total, 402 deaths were recorded among the 5,242 patients, with men and patients over 65 with vitamin D deficiency and cancer having higher all-cause and cancer-specific mortality rates. The study suggested that targeted vitamin D supplementation in older populations and individuals with diabetes may prove effective in reducing the burden of cancer and promoting overall health.

However, the study admitted to certain limitations, including that blood samples from the patients were not necessarily drawn near the time of cancer diagnosis, and that data on tobacco and alcohol use status, family history of cancer, and body mass index were not accounted for. Despite these limitations, the study used nationwide population data, providing comprehensive and representative data for analysis. Multiple other studies have also suggested positive links between vitamin D and countering cancer.

For example, a November 2020 study published in the JAMA Network found that providing patients with vitamin D reduced the incidence of advanced (metastatic or fatal) cancer. Another clinical trial published in 2017 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that supplementing high doses of vitamin D in chemotherapy patients delayed the progression of metastatic colorectal cancer.

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