Daily Vitamin D Intake Shows Promise in Reducing Cancer Mortality

by Hiroshi Tanaka
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Vitamin D supplementation

According to a comprehensive analysis of 14 high-quality studies conducted at the German Cancer Research Center, regular daily consumption of Vitamin D may potentially decrease cancer mortality rates by twelve percent. This effect is particularly pronounced in individuals over the age of 70 and those with a Vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, the impact of Vitamin D on cancer mortality was most significant when the supplementation began prior to a cancer diagnosis.

The analysis, which involved nearly 105,000 participants, examined the outcomes of 14 top-tier studies conducted at the German Cancer Research Center. The findings indicate that a daily dose of Vitamin D holds promise in reducing cancer mortality rates by twelve percent.

Vitamin D deficiency is a prevalent issue globally and is notably common among cancer patients. Approximately 15 percent of German adults have vitamin D blood levels below the threshold for a pronounced deficiency throughout the year. In addition, a study revealed that 59 percent of colorectal cancer patients suffered from a deficiency of Vitamin D3, which correlated with a poor prognosis.

Numerous studies have already investigated the potential effects of vitamin D supplementation on the development and prognosis of cancer. Ben Schöttker, an epidemiologist at the German Cancer Research Center, stated, “Based on current studies, vitamin D3 supplementation probably does not protect against developing cancer, but it could reduce the likelihood of dying from cancer. However, previous studies on cancer mortality have yielded very different results, and we were interested in the reasons for this.” The aim of the researchers was to produce robust results on this crucial issue concerning population health by re-evaluating all previous studies on the topic.

To evaluate the effectiveness of vitamin D3 on cancer mortality and survival, the researchers conducted a systematic literature search, identifying 14 high-quality studies with a total of nearly 105,000 participants. Only studies of the highest quality, in which participants were randomly assigned to either the vitamin D3 or placebo group, were considered.

When all 14 studies were combined, no statistically significant results were found. However, when the studies were divided based on the frequency and dosage of vitamin D3 intake, a significant difference emerged. The four studies involving infrequent higher doses showed no effect on cancer mortality. In contrast, the summary of the ten studies with daily dosing revealed a statistically significant twelve percent reduction in cancer mortality.

Ben Schöttker stated, “We observed this twelve percent reduction in cancer mortality after untargeted vitamin D3 administration to individuals with and without vitamin D deficiency. We can therefore assume that the effect is significantly higher for those people who are actually vitamin D deficient.” The efficacy of daily doses of vitamin D3 is attributed to the more regular bioavailability of the active agent, the hormone 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D, which is produced through reactions of vitamin D in the body and may potentially inhibit tumor growth.

Further analysis of the studies with daily intake indicated that individuals aged 70 and older benefited the most from vitamin D3 therapy. Additionally, the effect was most pronounced when vitamin D intake was initiated before the cancer diagnosis.

Hermann Brenner, an epidemiologist and prevention expert at DKFZ, emphasized, “This work underlines the great potential of vitamin D3 administration in the prevention of cancer deaths. Regular intake at low doses is associated with almost negligible risk and very low cost.”

Reference: “Efficacy of vitamin D3 supplementation on cancer mortality: Systematic review and individual patient data meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials” by Sabine Kuznia, Anna Zhu, Taisuke Akutsu, Julie E. Buring, Carlos A. Camargo Jr, Nancy R. Cook, Li-Ju Chen, Ting-Yuan David Cheng, Sari Hantunen, I.-Min Lee, JoAnn E. Manson, Rachel E. Neale, Robert Scragg, Aladdin H. Shadyab, Sha Sha, John Sluyter, Tomi-Pekka Tuomainen, Mitsuyoshi Urashima, Jyrki K. Virtanen, Ari Voutilainen, and Ben Schöttker, published in Ageing Research Reviews on 31 March 2023. The study was supported by German Cancer Aid.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Vitamin D supplementation

How can daily Vitamin D consumption reduce cancer mortality?

Regular daily intake of Vitamin D has shown potential in reducing cancer mortality by 12%. Studies conducted at the German Cancer Research Center involving over 105,000 participants indicate that Vitamin D supplementation, especially in individuals over 70 and those with a deficiency, may contribute to lower cancer mortality rates. The regular bioavailability of the active agent in Vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D, produced in the body through reactions of Vitamin D, may inhibit tumor growth.

Is Vitamin D deficiency common among cancer patients?

Yes, Vitamin D deficiency is notably prevalent among cancer patients. Approximately 59% of colorectal cancer patients were found to have a deficiency of Vitamin D3, which correlated with a poor prognosis. Moreover, about 15% of German adults have vitamin D blood levels below the threshold for a pronounced deficiency throughout the year. Addressing this deficiency may have significant implications for cancer outcomes.

What were the key findings of the analysis?

The analysis of 14 high-quality studies revealed that daily Vitamin D intake demonstrated a 12% reduction in cancer mortality. This effect was most evident when Vitamin D supplementation commenced prior to a cancer diagnosis. Furthermore, individuals aged 70 and older benefited the most from Vitamin D3 therapy. The studies also highlighted the importance of regular, low-dose Vitamin D supplementation for potentially negligible risk and low cost.

Were there any significant differences based on dosage and frequency of Vitamin D intake?

Yes, when the studies were divided based on dosage and frequency of Vitamin D intake, significant differences were observed. Studies with infrequent higher doses of Vitamin D did not show an effect on cancer mortality. However, studies involving daily doses of Vitamin D demonstrated a statistically significant 12% reduction in cancer mortality. This suggests that regular, daily Vitamin D intake may be more effective in preventing cancer-related deaths.

What are the implications of these findings?

The findings of this analysis underscore the potential of Vitamin D3 supplementation in reducing cancer mortality rates. Although Vitamin D3 supplementation may not protect against developing cancer, it could decrease the likelihood of dying from cancer. The study highlights the importance of addressing Vitamin D deficiency, especially among cancer patients, and emphasizes the benefits of regular, low-dose Vitamin D intake for population health and cancer prevention.

More about Vitamin D supplementation

  • German Cancer Research Center: Link
  • Study: “Efficacy of vitamin D3 supplementation on cancer mortality: Systematic review and individual patient data meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials” Link
  • German Cancer Aid: Link

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