Vitamin D Protects Against Colorectal Cancer By Boosting The Immune System
A new study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators demonstrates that vitamin D can protect some people withcolorectal cancer by perking up the immune system’s vigilance against tumor cells.
The research, published today by the journal Gut, represents the first time that a link between vitamin D and the immune response to cancer has been shown in a large human population. The finding adds to a growing body of research showing that vitamin D – known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced by the body in response to sunlight exposure – plays a key role in cancer prevention.
“People with high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream have a lower overall risk of developing colorectal cancer,” said the study’s senior author, Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD, MS, of Dana-Farber, Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Laboratory research suggests that vitamin D boosts immune system function by activating T cells that recognize and attack cancer cells. In this study, we wanted to determine if these two phenomena are related: Does vitamin D’s role in the immune system account for the lower rates of colorectal cancer in people with high circulating levels of the vitamin?”