– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – A daily dose of vitamin D could help cancer patients live longer, new research has found.
The vitamin, known for contributing to healthy bones, is produced when skin is exposed to the sun, and can also be obtained by eating liver, eggs, red meat and plenty of oily fish.
Modern lifestyles mean many spend more time indoors, and millions across the world have insufficient levels of the nutrient.
Now, researchers from Michigan State University have reported that cancer patients who take vitamin D for at least three years may live longer.
The study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, looked at 79,000 patients across multiple studies that randomly compared the use of vitamin D to a placebo.
Dr. Tarek Haykal, lead author on the study, said the findings were significant enough to show “just how important it might be among the cancer population”.
While the study is promising, Dr. Haykal warned that it is unclear how much longer vitamin D extends lifespan and why it has this result.
“There are still many questions and more research is needed,” he explained. “All we can say is that at least three years of taking the supplement is required to see any effect.”
And the internal medicine resident physician at Michigan State University and Hurley Medical Center is calling for doctors, especially oncologists, to prescribe vitamin D to their patients.
“We know it carries benefits with minimal side effects,” Dr. Haykal said. “There’s plenty of potential here.”
In a separate study presented at the annual meeting in Chicago, U.S. researcher Dr. Shifeng Mao, from the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute in Pittsburgh, reported that people who were deficient in vitamin D were more than twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer.