Vitamin D-bladder cancer link

Low vitamin D levels may be linked to risk of developing bladder cancer, a conference has heard.

A team from Warwick University, UK, reviewed seven studies on the topic of cancer and vitamin D.

The studies had between 112 and 1,125 participants each, and five of the seven indicated that low vitamin D levels are linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer. Furthermore, higher vitamin D levels also correlated with better survival and outcome from bladder cancer.

The same team, led by Dr Rosemary Bland, also examined the transitional epithelial cells that line the bladder. Their experiments showed that these cells activate and respond to vitamin D, triggering an immune response. Hence the immune system may play a role in cancer prevention by highlighting and destroying abnormal cells before they can develop into cancer.

The systematic review of seven studies was presented yesterday (8 November) at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference, held in Brighton, UK, from 7-9 November.

The researchers point out that further clinical studies are needed to confirm the findings, but the study "adds to a growing body of evidence on the importance of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels".

Dr Bland says: "More clinical studies are required to test this association, but our work suggests that low levels of vitamin D in the blood may prevent the cells within the bladder from stimulating an adequate response to abnormal cells.

"As vitamin D is cheap and safe, its potential use in cancer prevention is exciting and could potentially impact on the lives of many people," she adds.

Bland, R. et al. Low vitamin D is associated with increased bladder cancer risk; a systematic review and evidence of a potential mechanism. Presented by Dr Rosemary Bland at the Society for Endocrinology’s annual conference.

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