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Vitamin D could help cancer patients live longer.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019  |  Editor

Physicians have found that vitamin D could help cancer patients live longer.

Taking vitamin D supplements reduces the risk of dying from cancer by 13%, an overview of research suggests.

Modern indoor lifestyles mean that many people do not receive enough vitamin D form sunshine, which could be harming their ability to fight cancer, experts said.

A series of studies pointed to the benefits of having enough vitamin D, either through supplements, sunshine or foods such as oily fish, eggs and meat.

One fifth of Britons are estimated to have inadequate levels. Public Health England recommends that to keep levels high everyone should consider taking vitamin D supplements, especially in winter.

Vitamin D is well known to protect bones and muscles but interest has been growing in its benefits for other types of disease.

Researchers at Michigan State University pulled together data form ten randomised trials of supplements involving 79,000 people with an average age of 68 and followed them for 3 years.

The study found that those told to take vitamin D supplements were not actually less likely to get cancer but they were 13% less likely to die from it.

The lead researcher said that he would like to see more doctors prescribing vitamin D as it carries minimal side effects. In the UK of course, for those who pay for prescriptions, this is an expensive was to go about it but good quality vitamin D supplements are easily available at relatively low cost.

Vitamin D is thought to boost the immune system and studies have shown that it  regulates cell growth and could make cancer less aggressive.

Professor Daniel Bikle said that people could make and impressive difference to their chance of dying from cancer by taking vitamin D. "I'm a big believer in sensible sun exposure, getting some sun on your skin without burning. But in places such as the UK, there is not enough sun all year round, so supplements are necessary, although less so in summer.

In another study in Madrid, 2,280 prostate cancer patients were researched and the study found that those taking vitamin D supplements with statins were no less than 38% less likely to die of the disease than those taking neither. Of course, it is known that statins can reduce the energy released from food that is needed by major organs and as a result many are starting to take CoQ10 to rectify this.

Studies suggest that sunscreen does NOT harm the body's ability to produce vitamin D but stress that this should not be considered a licence to forget the dangers of sunburn.

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