What is the Connection Between Vitamin D and Cancer?

Sarah Sullins

Vitamin D and cancer may be related, and, in fact, some studies suggest that a high level of vitamin D in the blood may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Many of the studies performed have been inconsistent, but some show a clear link between a low intake of the vitamin and an increased risk in getting this type of cancer. The information gathered does not indicate a significant link between vitamin D and cancer of other parts of the body, such as breast, pancreatic, or prostate cancers.

Vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D supplements.

There are many ways for a person to receive vitamin D. It can be found in sunlight or man-made UV rays. Supplements can also be taken to increase the level of vitamin D in a person’s blood. Many foods — such as yogurt, milk, fortified cereals and breads, eggs, and fish — contain this necessary vitamin. A small amount of it may also be found in cheese and certain types of meat.

A bottle of vitamin D supplements.
A bottle of vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D is needed in the human body to help support the immune system. It strengthens bones and reduces inflammation. While there may be beneficial, preventative links between vitamin D and cancer, taking too much of this substance can also be toxic. When this occurs, an excessive amount of calcium develops and deposits in the body's soft tissues. This can lead to irregular heartbeat, pain, confusion, fever, thirst, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and chills.

The association between vitamin D and cancer is mostly beneficial when it concerns colorectal cancer.
The association between vitamin D and cancer is mostly beneficial when it concerns colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is also commonly known as colon cancer. It involves cancerous cells that grow in the appendix, colon, and rectum. A tumor of this kind may cause anemia, fatigue, bleeding, pale skin, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

Colorectal adenomas are often the main cause of colon cancer. Many studies have shown that taking vitamin D may prevent adenomas from occurring. Those same studies also indicate that this vitamin may be responsible for keeping the adenomas from coming back. Fully understanding the connection between vitamin D and cancer may not only prevent these growths from recurring, but may play a significant role in preventing colorectal cancer entirely.

Although the association between vitamin D and cancer is mostly beneficial when it concerns colorectal cancer, some studies indicate a less positive link. A few have found that high levels of this type of vitamin may increase the risk of other types of cancer. These studies suggested that pancreatic cancer may occur more often in persons with a high level of vitamin D. Too much exposure to UV rays without protection may also increase the risk of skin cancer.

Some studies suggest it may be possible to prevent prostate cancer with vitamin D.
Some studies suggest it may be possible to prevent prostate cancer with vitamin D.

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