Vitamins are essential to maintain the general health of the body. One of the vitamins that is unusual from the rest of its family is Vitamin D. It is generally described as a steroid hormone produced from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to the Sun. However, not many food items come with Vitamin D which makes deficiency of this nutrient quite common.
Deficiency of Vitamin D is known to cause rickets, a bone disease common in children in developing countries. Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to osteoporosis which causes reduced mineral density, and increased risk of falls and fractures in older adults. However, does deficiency of Vitamin D also cause cancer?
A 2016 study suggested that vitamin D is associated with tumor progression and metastasis in breast cancer. The study published in Endocrinology journal – led by Brian J. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., from Stanford University School of Medicine – identified that low levels of vitamin D circulating in the blood may play a mechanistic role in promoting breast cancer growth and metastasis.
Vitamin D is obtained from food and supplements or produced by the body in response to Sun exposure, and is converted into the hormone calcitriol in several different body tissues, including breast tissue. Calcitriol, in turn, binds to the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which regulates a large number of genes, some of which are associated with cancer.
Another study suggested that vitamin D deficiency has also been documented in patients with prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, as well as multiple myeloma.
Vitamin D and particularly its active form has been recognised as an important hormone playing a crucial role in human homeostasis. A 2013 study mentions that active Vitamin D has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth, induce cancer cell maturation, induce apoptosis, and decrease angiogenesis. Those who lived at higher geographical latitudes increased the risk of developing and dying of colon, prostate, breast and other cancers, while people exposed to sunlight were noted to less likely develop cancer.
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