Study links low vitamin D levels to increased bladder cancer risk

09 November 2016 - 11:55 By AFP Relaxnews

Researchers based in the UK have linked low vitamin D levels to increased risk of bladder cancer. The scientists presented their findings, based on a systemic review of seven studies, at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Brighton. 

After reviewing seven previous studies, researchers at the University of Warwick identified an increased risk of bladder cancer in participants with low levels of vitamin D in five of the studies (ranging from 112 to 125 participants per study). 

Previous research has highlighted the importance of vitamin D in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, autoimmune disease and cancer. Produced by exposure to sunshine, vitamin D helps control calcium and phosphate levels in the body. Dietary sources include oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel) and egg yolks.

The researchers then investigated cells in the bladder and established that they were able to activate and respond to vitamin D, in turn stimulating an immune response. According to the study's lead author, Rosemary Bland, this discovery is significant because the immune system may play a role in cancer prevention by identifying abnormal cells before they develop into cancerous cells.

Further clinical research is needed to corroborate the results, but the researchers' discovery could make vitamin D a safe and cheap potential resource in the treatment of cancer.

Although dietary vitamin D intake remains marginal (20%), choosing certain foods can help boost vitamin D levels in the body. These include cod liver oil, salmon, trout, herring, egg yolks, milk, calf's liver, soy drinks, canned tuna  and cooked button mushrooms.