Study: Vitamin D May Reduce Cancer Death Rate

Cancer is one of the most common and deadly diseases that affect older people in particular. Now a study by the German Cancer Research Center gives hope that cancer mortality can be significantly reduced simply and naturally – by taking vitamin D every day.

Since 1999, the cancer death rate in Germany has risen by around 10 percent. In 2019 alone, 231,000 people succumbed to cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death among 45 to 65-year-olds. These numbers illustrate the urgency of researching new therapeutic approaches for cancer treatment.

A study by the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg now points to a simple treatment method: taking vitamin D could increase the survival rate of older people suffering from cancer.

Vitamin D reduces the cancer death rate by 13 percent

In recent years, research has increasingly focused on the effects of vitamin D on cancer. In the last three years alone, three meta-analyses of previous large-scale clinical studies on this topic have been published. Researchers at the German Cancer Research Center took a closer look at the data from the meta-analyses, which included tens of thousands of people over the age of 50.

In all clinical studies examined, some of the subjects received vitamin D daily for several years, while the control group received a placebo. The result showed that, when added up, around 13 percent fewer deaths occurred in the study groups. In absolute figures, this would mean that 30,000 cancer deaths could be avoided in Germany every year through vitamin D administration, the researchers explain.

However, this does not mean that vitamin D can protect against cancer. According to the Heidelberg researchers, what the clinical studies do show is that people who have cancer and take vitamin D every day are less likely to get to an advanced stage and thus have a better chance of survival, as Hermann Brenner, head of the study and epidemiologist at the German Cancer Research Center, says, explained in an interview with the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung.

Recommendation for nationwide vitamin D supplementation

Based on the study results, Brenner advises people over 50 to take vitamin D supplements. Because in this age group, a deficiency also occurs regardless of the season. Study leader Hermann Brenner also supports the recommendation of the National Institute for Health in England that the entire population should take vitamin D in winter.

Finland, where the cancer mortality rate is around 20 percent lower than in Germany, proves that this makes sense. One possible reason for this is: In Finland, foods are fortified with vitamin D.

According to Brenner, the costs for nationwide vitamin D supplementation amounted to 25 million euros. This would be offset by 254 million euros in cancer treatment costs that could be saved as a result. Because cancer in the advanced stages would cost several tens of thousands of euros.

The daily requirement of vitamin D can hardly be covered through food

Unlike other vitamins, the body can produce vitamin D itself when exposed to sunlight. The cholesterol found in the skin is converted into provitamin D by sunlight, which is then transported to the liver. This is where vitamin D3 is finally produced. The DFKZ recommends exposing yourself to the sun at least two to three times a week for 12 minutes without sunscreen. The face, hands, and parts of the arms and legs should be uncovered.

Vitamin D can also be ingested through food. However, since animal products contain less effective vitamin D2 and there are hardly any plant foods that contain vitamin D3, experts recommend dietary supplements, especially in winter. The recommended daily dose for vitamin D supplementation is between 800 and 1000 international units. According to the Medicines Commission of the German Medical Association (AkdÄ), 4,000 IU daily is the safe upper limit for vitamin D.

Vitamin D in connection with Corona

Vitamin D plays an important role in the functioning of the immune system. Accordingly, an undersupply can weaken the immune system, which can influence the course of a disease – not only in the case of cancer. A case study from Indonesia found that the death rate from Corona is drastically increased by vitamin D deficiency.

Researchers also suspect that the vitamin could even reduce the risk of corona infection. The German Society for Nutrition confirms on its website that the current study situation allows a connection between vitamin D and the course of a Covid 19 disease.

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Written by Kelly Turner

I am a chef and a food fanatic. I have been working in the Culinary Industry for the past five years and have published pieces of web content in the form of blog posts and recipes. I have experience with cooking food for all types of diets. Through my experiences, I have learned how to create, develop, and format recipes in a way that is easy to follow.

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