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Importance of vitamin D supplements to cancer patients

Vitamin D supplements, if taken for multiple years, may add years of life to those with cancer.

In a recent study conducted at Michigan State University, researchers found that vitamin D, if taken for at least three years, could help people with cancer live longer.

In the study, which was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting this month and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the researchers looked at a population of almost 80,000 people with cancer with an average age of 68 years old and 10 randomized controlled trials. They focused on the use of vitamin D supplementation and its effects on cancer risk and death.The authors found that vitamin D supplementation was associated with a significant reduction of cancer-related death compared to placebo.

Using the database search, the researchers found that those using vitamin D supplements for at least three years had a 13 percent reduced risk of death from all cancers in comparison to placebo effects.

Although these results are promising, compared with placebo, vitamin D didn’t show a reduction in cancer incidence. The benefits only came into play once cancer had already manifested.Dr. Tarek Haykal, a lead study author and second-year internal medicine resident physician at Michigan State University and Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, said in a released statement, “Vitamin D had a significant effect on lowering the risk of death among those with cancer, but unfortunately it did not show any proof that it could protect against getting cancer.”

Although the initial data results are promising, experts caution against vitamin D’s widespread use and that more research is needed.“While the data described are interesting, there needs to be more careful analysis of whether cancer-related mortality was decreased for all cancer types, or for specific diagnoses, age ranges, ethnicities, etc., before considering whether it should be used to lower global cancer mortality,” Joya Chandra, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics, epigenetics, and molecular carcinogenesis at the University of Texas-MD Anderson Cancer Center and co-director of MD Anderson’s Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention & Survivorship, told Healthline.

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