Patients who were vitamin D deficient had an increased risk of developing bladder cancer, a systematic review presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference has concluded.
Vitamin D helps regulate the body’s calcium and phosphate levels. Earlier studies have shown an association between vitamin D deficiency and various health conditions including cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, cancer, and autoimmune disorders. Vitamin D is made by the body through exposure to sunshine and can be ingested from foods such as fatty fish and egg yolks.
For this study, researchers from the University of Warwick studied the relationship between vitamin D and the risk of bladder cancer. A database search identified 287 citations of which, 7 studies that included 112–125 patients each were included for the final review. Five of the 7 studies found a link between low vitamin D levels and a higher risk of bladder cancer and higher levels of vitamin D were linked to better survival and outcomes.
Lead study author, Dr. Rosemary Bland, reported that the transitional epithelial cells that line the bladder were able to activate and respond to vitamin D, which can stimulate an immune response. This finding supports the notion that the immune system may play a part in cancer prevention by detecting abnormal cells before they develop into cancer.
Additional studies are needed to evaluate this association but the findings suggest that “low levels of vitamin D in the blood may prevent the cells within the bladder from stimulating an adequate response to abnormal cells,” Dr. Bland concluded.
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