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Daily vitamin D pill could reduce deaths from cancer

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Daily vitamin D pill could reduce deaths from cancer

Scientists from the United States (US) said boosting vitamin D levels by taking a daily supplement could reduce the risk of dying from cancer by 13 per cent. A U.S researcher, Dr. Shifeng Mao, from the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute in Pittsburgh, reported findings showing that people who were deficient in vitamin D were more than twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer and also had a higher risk of bowel cancer.

Findings of this study were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago in the U.S, which held from May 31, 2019 to June 4. The study, which reported a 13 per cent reduction in cancer risk was conducted by Michigan State University and Hur-ley Medical Centre, which reviewed findings from 10 trials involving adults with an average age of 68.

The study has prompted calls for the government to add vitamin D to common foods such as milk or bread – a policy used in the U.S, Canada, Sweden, Finland and Australia. While vitamin D is produced when skin is exposed to the sun, it can also be obtained by eating liver, eggs, red meat and plenty of oily fish. However, millions who do not eat enough of these foods – or fail to get sufficient sunshine, should take supplements instead, the researchers advised.

Two other separate studies corroborated the result from the current research. One of the separate studies, involving 79,000 healthy adults found taking a supplement for at least three years was associated with a 13 per cent drop in risk of dying from any form of cancer later in life. Also, a second study found taking a daily pill along with a statin was linked to a reduction in deaths from prostate cancer of almost 40 per cent.

The result of these two studies were similarly presented at the ASCO conference in Chicago this week. Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble secosteroids responsible for increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, and multiple other biological effects. In humans, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D1 and vitamin D2.

However, vitamin D could be synthesised by the human body when sunlight hits the skin, but modern lifestyles mean many spend more time indoors and consequently have insufficient levels of the nutrient.

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