Daily vitamin D cuts cancer risk

June 8, 2007 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Daily vitamin D cuts cancer risk
A landmark study released today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that post-menopausal women who take a calcium and vitamin D supplement could potentially cut their risk of cancer by 60 percent.

More specifically, researchers found that the higher the level of vitamin D in the blood, the lower the risk of cancer.

The study has already prompted the Canadian Cancer Society to change its current recommendations on vitamin D intake for all Canadian adults. 

The new guidelines recommend that adults living in Canada should receive 1,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day during the fall and winter (when exposure to the sun, which produces the vitamin is less).

Adults at a higher risk of having lower vitamin D levels including older adults, people with dark skin or who wear clothing that covers most of their bodies, to take 1000 IU per day all year round.

These updated recommendations are much higher than the current 200-600 IU recommended by Health Canada for bone health.

The latest findings were based on a four-year study from researchers at Creighton University in Nebraska.  Researchers followed over 1,100 women aged 55 years and older between 2000 and 2005.  The women were randomly assigned to receive 1400-1500 mg of calcium, calcium and 1,000 IU of vitamin D, or a placebo everyday.

Researchers found that the women receiving the vitamin D supplement had a 60 percent less chance of developing cancer.  Almost every type of cancer looked at in the study was reduced in the vitamin D group, including breast, colon and lung.

In the event that some of the women who did develop cancer entered the study undiagnosed, researchers eliminated the first year results, only looking at the last three years of the study.  When they did this, the effect was even more dramatic, with the calcium/vitamin D group experiencing a 77 percent drop in cancer risk.

While evidence is still growing in this field, the findings suggest a definite link between vitamin D and cancer risk. 

For the full updated recommendations from the Canadian Cancer Society, click here.

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