Vitamin D linked to genes for cancer and autoimmune diseases

August 26, 2010 in Nutrition Topics in the News

Vitamin D linked to genes for cancer and autoimmune diseases
British scientists have found that vitamin D influences more than 200 genes, including ones related to cancer and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, a discovery that shows how serious vitamin D deficiency can be.

It's estimated that 2 out of 3 Canadians have less of the nutrient than the latest research suggests is necessary for proper health and disease prevention.

Researchers note that their study shows quite dramatically the wide-ranging influence that vitamin D exerts over health, including how it affects DNA through something called the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which binds to specific locations of the human genome. Researchers mapped out these points and identified more than 200 genes that it directly influences.

Researchers looked at disease-associated regions of the gene map to see if they had higher levels of VDR binding. They found VDR binding was "significantly enriched" in regions linked to several common autoimmune diseases, such as MS, type 1 diabetes and Crohn's disease, as well as in regions associated with cancers such as leukemia and colorectal cancer.

Vitamin D deficiency is already a well-known risk factor for rickets, and some evidence suggests it may increase susceptibility to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes, as well as certain cancers and even dementia.

Worldwide, an estimated one billion people are deficient in vitamin D.
These findings were published in the journal Genome Research.

Currently, the Canadian Cancer Society recommends Adults living in Canada consider taking Vitamin D supplementation of 1,000 international units (IU) a day during the fall and winter.

Adults at higher risk of having lower Vitamin D levels should consider taking Vitamin D supplementation of 1,000 IU/day all year round. This includes people who are older, dark skinned or wear clothing that covers most of their body.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.