Vitamin D and Cancer

Recent researches proved that there is a link between the level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood and the patient’s cancer predisposition. The scientists have strong evidence that the higher intake of vitamin D or higher level of vitamin D in the blood might result in a reduced risk of colorectal cancer (Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention, n.d.). At the same time, the scientists admit that no unambiguous approach seems to be possible, while considering the problem whether or not the higher intake of vitamin D and higher level of vitamin D in the blood may affect the risk of breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancers (Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention, n.d.). Therefore, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) cannot give a specific answer whether the use of vitamin D supplements can be viewed as a preventive measure of different types of cancer or not (Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention, n.d.). The issue of the link between the level of vitamin D in the blood and cancer prevention is of great importance. Recent researches conducted in the United Arab Emirates prove, that “78 percent of the UAE population has vitamin D deficiency, highly prevalent in Emirati women” (Sabry, 2014). At the same time, “more than 80 percent of Dubai residents do not get enough vitamin D, despite the year-round sunlight” (Sabry, 2014). Thus, it is possible to assume that obtaining Vitamin D from food products is the point of concern within the framework of cancer prevention and establishing a healthy lifestyle.

Vitamin D: basic characteristics, metabolism, sources

Vitamin D is typically referred to as the group of specific fat-soluble substances, capable of being transformed in the human body into hormones (Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention, n.d.). Vitamin D helps the human body to use and accumulate calcium and phosphorus. Accumulation of calcium and phosphorus, in its turn, is important for the formation and development of the muscular-skeletal system. Malfunction of the vitamin D, i.e. its deficiency often causes rickets in child’s organism and osteomalacia in adults (Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention, n.d.).


Scientists distinguish between the two main forms of vitamin D that are regarded as important to the human organism, namely ergocalciferol, or vitamin D2 , and cholecalciferol commonly referred to as vitamin D3. The human liver converts both, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), to 25-hydroxyvitamin D (Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention). Traveling through blood to kidneys, 25-hydroxyvitamin D is being further transformed to 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D, typically referred to as calcitriol, which is the active form of vitamin D in the human body (Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention, n.d.).

Skin exposed to ultraviolet radiation is proved to produce vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is produced by plants. However, the vast majority of the vitamin D in the human organism is obtained from some specific types of products. Fatty fish, fish liver oil, eggs, milk, juices, and cereals constitute the group of products one can obtain vitamin D from (Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention, n.d.).

Recommended Dietary Allowances

Ross et al. (2011) claim that the Recommended Dietary Allowances for calcium, according to the Report on Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D from the Institute of Medicine, vary from 700 to 1300 mg/d in the first year of life. Recommended Dietary Allowances for vitamin are as follows: 600 IU/d from the first year of life up till 70 and 800 IU/d starting from 71 and older. Ross et al. (2011) note, that the represented data corresponds to the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of at least 20 ng/ml (50 nmol/liter) and the requirements of approximately 97,5% of the population. Hollis (2005), while considering the issue of the amount of solar radiation, admits that 135-225 nmol/L (54–90 μg/L) of 25-hydroxyvitamin D can be regarded as sufficient and permissible. The appropriate nutritional vitamin D deficiency makes < 80 nmol (32 μg/L) circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (Hollis, 2005).

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Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention

Scientists all over the world have been trying to find the substance that can help prevent cancer. However, for many years their trials were unsuccessful. Recent studies show that due to the fact that there is some connection between cancer incidence and vitamin D intake, science needs more research on the current topic. The results are progressive and positive. Scholars determined that a sufficient amount of vitamin D for a person with particular physical characteristics (gender, age) can be beneficial since the organism will be less susceptible for cancer cells development. Garland, Gorham, Mohr, and Garland (2009, p. 468) state that males with higher levels of vitamin D are less prone to prostate cancer, as well as women to breast cancer. In their study, the scientists report that the interventions used in order to increase the amount of vitamin D in the organism are different (Garland et al., 2009, p. 468). The strategies can include solar ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure and oral intake. The researchers prove that a sufficient amount of vitamin D intake in childhood and adolescence is associated with lower risks of cancer development in adulthood (Garland et al., 2009, p. 468). If males with prostate cancer receive high recreational solar exposure, the mortality becomes 50% lower. Positive results are also found in patients with breast, colorectal, ovary, and other types of cancer (Garland et al., 2009, pp. 468-471).

Garland et al. (2006, p. 252) claim that despite the fact that vitamin D importance is usually associated with prevention and treatment of fractures and bone diseases, vitamin D is essential in cancer prevention. Providing the example of people living in northern and southern parts of the United States, Garland et al. (2006, p. 252) states that people living in the southern states have the lower incidence of cancer morbidity and mortality than those living in the North. Having evaluated the researchers conducted by other scientists, Garland et al. (2006, p. 252) concluded that there is a considerable benefit of solar exposure and serum metabolites of vitamin D in prevention from different types of cancer. Therefore, the authors of the article recommend high vitamin D intake and sufficient solar exposure to ensure its photosynthesis through the skin (Garland et al., 2006, p. 255).

Conclusion

To conclude, it is important to admit the following; vitamin D is a general term used to denote a specific group of fat-soluble substances. Vitamin D is an integral part of the process of accumulating calcium and phosphorus in the human body. Accumulating phosphorus and calcium is essential for the formation and development of the musculoskeletal system. Numerous researches prove that vitamin D is beneficial not only for the treatment of fractures and bone diseases but also for cancer. Due to its capability of being transformed into hormones, vitamin D is viewed as the possible preventive measure of different types of cancer. Many breast, colon, prostate, and ovary cancer patients survived due to vitamin D therapy, which includes solar UVB exposure and serum metabolites (vitamin D intake with the food and remedies). Rich vitamin D intake with sufficient solar exposure in childhood and adolescence is reported to significantly reduce the risk of cancer in adulthood. Therefore, current researches take the issue of the Recommended Dietary Allowances for calcium and vitamin D into serious consideration. Hypothetically, further investigation of vitamin D, as the means for cancer prevention, can contribute to a better understanding of the nature of cancer as such. It has been reported recently that people in the United Arab Emirates experience Vitamin D deficiency. To put it more simply, people do not get enough Vitamin D with food products, whilst they are exposed to sufficient solar radiation the whole year round. As the issue of Vitamin D as an important aspect of cancer prevention is concerned, the scientists recommend high vitamin D intake and sufficient solar exposure to ensure its photosynthesis through the skin. All things considered that in this regard, the issue of vitamin D intake is of paramount importance in the UAE.

References

  1. Garland, C. F., Garland, F. C., Gorham, E. D., Lipkin, M., Newmark, H., Mohr, S. B., & Holick, M. F. (2006). The role of vitamin D in cancer prevention. American Journal of Public Health, 96(2), 252-261.
  2. Garland, C. F., Gorham, E. D., Mohr, S. B., & Garland, F. C. (2009). Vitamin D for cancer prevention: Glob Perspective. Annals of Epidemiology, 19(7), 468-483.
  3. Hollis, B. W. (2005). Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels indicative of vitamin D sufficiency: implications for establishing a new effective dietary intake recommendation for vitamin D. The Journal of nutrition, 135(2), 317-322.
  4. Ross, A. C., Manson, J. E., Abrams, S. A., Aloia, J. F., Brannon, P. M., Clinton, S. K., … & Shapses, S. A. (2011). The 2011 report on dietary reference intakes for calcium and vitamin D from the Institute of Medicine: what clinicians need to know. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism96(1), 53-58.
  5. Sabry, S. (2014). UAE has the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.
  6. Vitamin D and cancer prevention [National Cancer Institute FactSheet]. (n.d.). In the National Cancer Institute at the National Insitute of Health. Retrieved November 25, 2014.

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