Vitamin D may increase colon cancer survival

In a new study, researchers found that vitamin D may be helpful for people diagnosed with colon cancer.

They found that patients who took a high dose of vitamin D in their body are more likely to survive colon cancer.

The research was conducted by a team from Yale University.

Although vitamin D benefits continue to be studied, the vitamin is known for being essential to bone health. Its primary role is to help the body absorb calcium from the intestines to harden the bones.

Not getting enough of the vitamin may lead to softening and weakening of bones.

In the study, the team tested a group of 139 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

The patients took standard chemotherapy and vitamin D supplements.

One group received a high dose of vitamin D (8,000 international units [IU] daily for 14 days followed by 4,000 IU/day thereafter), and the other group was given low doses (400 IU, found in most multivitamins).

The team showed that the 69 patients who received a high dosage of vitamin D experienced a 36% improvement in the rate of cancer progression or death when compared to the 70 patients who received low-dose supplements.

In addition, the length of time before the disease worsened was longer (median time of 13 months) compared to those who were supplemented with lower doses, whose disease worsened after about 11 months.

The findings suggest that the addition of high-dose vitamin D to chemotherapy for colorectal cancer can improve the effectiveness of the standard therapies.

This can be a relatively inexpensive intervention that could make a meaningful difference in the lives of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Future work needs to confirm the research results in a larger study. Before that, the team would not recommend high-dose vitamin D as a routine practice.

Vitamin D comes from foods such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, egg yolks, and beef liver, or in fortified foods such as milk, cereal and some orange juices. Another way to get the vitamin is by spending time outdoors, in sunlight.

The lead author of the study is Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of Yale Cancer Center.

The study is published in JAMA.

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