High vitamin D levels reduce risk of lung cancer, according to study

Posted on: June 1, 2015   by  Amber Tovey

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A new meta-analysis suggests that high vitamin D status reduces the risk of lung cancer.

Research has provided evidence that vitamin D protects against cancer through its anti-proliferative effects and regulation of apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Though, there is limited research on the relationship between vitamin D status and lung cancer.

Animal studies have found that vitamin D may inhibit the spread of cancer from the lungs to other organs in the body. There have also been multiple studies that have evaluated the relationship between vitamin D status and lung cancer risk, one of which we covered in a previous blog. However, these results have been inconclusive.

In an effort to clarify the relationship between vitamin D and lung cancer risk, researchers recently conducted a meta-analysis of 12 studies involving a total of 288,778 individuals. The researchers included these studies because they fit the following criteria:

  1. Cohort studies or nested case-control studies
  2. Assessed the relationship between vitamin D status and lung cancer risk, or the relationship between vitamin D intake and lung cancer risk.
  3. The outcomes were lung cancer incidence or mortality.
  4. Relative risk or data able to calculate risk estimates were available.

Among the 12 studies that were included into the analysis, 9 were prospective cohort studies and 3 were nested case-control studies. Nested case control studies analyzes only a subset of controls from a cohort compared to the incident cases. Three studies evaluated the association between vitamin D intake and lung cancer risk, while nine studies evaluated the association between vitamin D blood status and lung cancer risk.

Here is what the researchers found from their analysis:

  • An analysis of all 12 studies showed that those with high vitamin D status had a 16 % decreased risk of developing lung cancer (p < 0.001).
  • When looking at the nine studies that assessed the relationship between vitamin D status and risk of lung cancer, the highest vitamin D levels were associated with a 17% reduced risk of developing lung cancer compared to the lowest vitamin D levels (p < 0.001).
  • The risk of lung cancer for those with the highest vitamin D intake was reduced by 11% compared to those with the lowest vitamin D intake (p < 0.001).

The researchers concluded,

“Meta-analysis of total 12 studies showed that high vitamin D status was associated with decreased risk of lung cancer.”

The main limitation of this study is that it consisted of prospective cohorts and nested case control studies, therefore, the meta-analysis only proves association. The researchers made an important note that there is still no evidence for the prevention of lung cancer by vitamin D supplementation. Clinical trials are needed in order to evaluate this.

Source

Zhang L., et al. Vitamin D and Lung Cancer Risk: A Comprehensive Review and Meta-Analysis. Cellular physiology and biochemistry : international journal of experimental cellular physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology, 2015.

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