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Taking vitamin D supplements could cut the risk of cancer by more than a third, according to a new study.
The research, published in JAMA Network Open medical journal, found that popping vitamin D pills is linked to a 17 percent overall reduction in the risk of advanced cancer.
But the results are even more significant for those who took the supplement and maintained a healthy body weight — cutting a person’s risk by 38 percent. A healthy weight body mass index (BMI) for an adult is between 18.5 – 24.9, according to the CDC.
Meanwhile, no reduction in risk was observed in overweight and obese study participants, suggesting that body mass significantly influences the effectiveness of vitamin D in decreasing a person’s likelihood of developing advanced cancer.
“These findings suggest that vitamin D may reduce the risk of developing advanced cancers,” said corresponding author Paulette Chandler, a primary care physician and epidemiologist in the Brigham’s Division of Preventive Medicine.
“Vitamin D is a supplement that’s readily available, cheap and has been used and studied for decades. Our findings, especially the strong risk reduction seen in individuals with normal weight, provide new information about the relationship between vitamin D and advanced cancer.”
The study involved 25,871 patients aged in their 50s between 2013 and 2018 at Boston hospitals. All patients were cancer-free at the start of the study.
Vitamin D deficiency is common among cancer patients, with one 2011 US study reporting that more than three-quarters of patients do not receive enough of the nutrient — and patients with the lowest levels of vitamin D are associated with the most advanced cancers.
There is also evidence that higher amounts of body fat are associated with less vitamin D absorption, according to a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Obesity Supplements.
Doctors in New York have recently warned that New Yorkers were getting less vitamin D during this year’s lockdown — something that can be easily rectified with supplements.