High levels of vitamin D may offer significant protection against bladder cancer, according to new research out of Spain.
The study, conducted by molecular biologists and epidemiologists from the Spanish National Cancer Research Center, identified genetic factors that may allow vitamin D to prevent bladder cancer or mitigate its impacts in patients with the most aggressive forms of the disease that are more prone to spread to other parts of the body.
The findings, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, are the latest to suggest the “sunshine vitamin” offers marked health benefits beyond its well-known ability to help the body build strong bones.
To reach their conclusions, researchers examined blood samples from more than 2,000 individuals — including patients with bladder cancer and people free from the disease — in 18 Spanish hospitals. The results showed those with the highest levels of vitamin D had the lowest risks of developing bladder cancer, while those with the lowest levels were the most likely to be diagnosed with the disease.
"These results indicate that high levels of this vitamin are associated with protection from the illness or, similarly, that low levels are associated with a higher risk of suffering from it," said lead researcher Núria Malats.
He said results suggest that an increase in the dietary or supplementary intake of this vitamin, or through sun exposure, might help patient in terms of prevention and treatment.
Recent studies have also suggested vitamin D levels may reduce the risks of developing high blood pressure, breast and colon cancer, and other diseases.