Vitamin D supplements, if taken for at least three years, could add years to the lives of cancer patients, a study has found. The researchers from Michigan State University in the US suggest that the vitamin carries significant benefits other than just contributing to healthy bones.
"Vitamin D had a significant effect on lowering the risk of death among those with cancer, but unfortunately it didn't show any proof that it could protect against getting cancer," said Tarek Haykal, from Michigan State University. The researchers looked at data related to disease prevention from more than 79,000 patients in multiple studies that randomly compared the use of vitamin D to placebo over at least a three-year period.
Researchers zeroed in on any information that involved cancer incidence and mortality. "The difference in the mortality rate between the vitamin D and placebo groups was statistically significant enough that it showed just how important it might be among the cancer population," Haykal said.
While these findings show promise, Haykal cautioned that the exact amount of the vitamin to take and what levels are needed in the blood are still unknown. He also said that it is unclear how much longer vitamin D extends lifespan and why it has this result.
"There are still many questions and more research is needed," Haykal said. Results show enough promise, however, that Haykal would like to see more doctors, especially oncologists, prescribe vitamin D to patients in general.
(With inputs from agencies.)