Could vitamin D thwart bladder cancer?
Vitamin D is known to be important for immunity and overall health and well-being. A new study shows high levels of the vitamin, which is actually a hormone, might help protect against bladder cancer.
Epidemiologists from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) conducted one of the largest studies ever that links high levels of vitamin D to lower risk of cancer of the bladder.
For their study researchers took blood samples from more than 2000 people, including those with and without bladder cancer.
Núria Malats, head of the Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology Group, and Francisco X. Real, from the Epithelial Carcinogenesis Group, at the CNIO said in a press release, We have seen that those subjects with the highest levels of 25(OH)D3, a stable form of vitamin D in the blood, are those who showed the lowest risk of suffering bladder cancer.”
He adds the finding indicates high levels of vitamin D can protect from bladder cancer. Malats also suggest low levels of the vitamin would put people at higher risk for the disease.
Real said the researchers also used vitro molecular analysis [studies conducted in test tubes] to find that vitamin D regulates the expression of a protein—FGFR3—that contributes to bladder cancer.
André FS Amaral, first author of the study said high levels of vitamin D are found to a especially lower the risk of developing aggressive forms of bladder cancer that are likely to spread other parts of the body from low levels of FGFR3.
The finding is important for patients who have been treated for bladder cancer in the past. If you have a family history of bladder cancer you may want to have your vitamin D level checked, which can be performed with a simple blood test.
Several studies have linked low levels of vitamin D to the development of breast and colon cancer, but according to the National Cancer Institute, results have been inconsistent.
The active form of the vitamin in the body is 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, which is manufactured from vitamin D2 or vitamin D3.
Vitamin D is needed for strong muscles in addition to immune function and adequate levels are also needed to keep bones strong.
People at higher risk for bladder cancer include smokers, patients with a history of the disease, diabetics who have taken certain medications for more than a year, those with a history of chronic bladder inflammation from cystitis and anyone with a family member who has had the disease.
Consuming fortified foods such as milk, yogurt, orange juice and bread can help keep vitamin D levels at healthy levels. Most people get enough vitamin D from being outdoors, with the exception of during winter months, making an especially important to focus on a healthy diet one outdoor time is limited.
Foods that naturally contain vitamin D include eggs, fish liver oil and fatty fish such as mackerel and sardines. Vitamin D can also be supplemented.
Researchers aren’t sure exactly why vitamin might help prevent cancer. The newest study shows an association between higher levels of vitamin D and lower risk of developing bladder cancer.
Journal of National Cancer Institute (JNCI) .
October 30, 2012