Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is produced through our body’s natural response to sunlight exposure. Evidence has established a relationship between low vitamin D levels and higher mortality rates. A recent study conducted by researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has revealed that vitamin D can lower a person’s risk for colorectal cancer by strengthening the immune system’s response to tumor cells.
“People with high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream have a lower overall risk of developing colorectal cancer,” lead researcher Dr. Shuji Ogino said in a statement. “Laboratory research suggests that vitamin D boosts immune system function by activating T cells that recognize and attack cancer cells. In this study, we wanted to determine if these two phenomena are related: Does vitamin D’s role in the immune system account for the lower rates of colorectal cancer in people with high circulating levels of the vitamin?”
Ogino and his colleagues gathered data from the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, similar long-term health tracking studies that included 170,000 participants combined. From this data, researchers analyzed the records of 218 patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 624 cancer-free participants. Records included blood samples taken in the 1990s, which was before any participants developed cancer. These blood samples were tested for a substance produced by the liver in response to vitamin D, known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
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