Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is among the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the US. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are grouped together because they have many features in common. According to a recent study, vitamin D just may help reduce risk of colon cancer.
Vitamin D is known for its multiple roles in our health. It supports bone health, immune system, cardiovascular health, and helps regulate insulin levels.
The large study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that being deficient in vitamin D (under 30nmol/L) was associated with higher risk of colon cancer. Conversely, higher circulating vitamin D concentrations was associated with lower risk. The study supports and strengthens a previous study considered inconclusive.
People with deficient concentrations of vitamin D in their blood were found 31 percent higher risk of colorectal cancer compared to people with “adequate” levels of the vitamin. Concentrations above those recommended for bone health were associated 22 percent lower risk. However, the risk reduction did not continue to decline with higher concentrations.
The study was done by scientists from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), American Cancer Society (ACS), the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and 20 other medical centers “around the world”.
The researchers looked at vitamin D blood levels of 5,700 people with colon cancer and 7,100 people without it, from the US, Europe and Asia.
Other recent studies show that the vitamin may help reduce risk of miscarriage in pregnant mothers, reduce cholesterol in children, and reduce wheezing in some preterm babies. For more about this, see our post Vitamin D Supplements and New Moms.
Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” as it is obtained free from the sun. However, deficiency is surprisingly common. Food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese.
Though getting vitamin D from the sun and food is recommended by most experts, supplementation many be a good thing as well. This is because deficiency is common even among athletes, who we expect to follow healthy diet, depending on geographical location.
The tricky part of getting vitamin D is knowing how much you need. This is because there is no way to measure how much of it you get from the sun. Plus, you can get too much vitamin D though it is nearly impossible to get too much of it from the sun or food. Therefore, it is important to work with a healthcare professional before starting on vitamin D supplements.