Link between Vitamin D, Immune System and Colorectal Cancer

Scientists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have revealed in a recent research that vitamin D can enable the body fight against colorectal cancer by enhancing the immune system.

Vitamin D is obtained through exposure to natural light along with specific foods and supplements
Vitamin D is obtained through exposure to natural light along with specific foods and supplements

The research, reported in Gut, contributes to a increasing body of study by determining a connection between vitamin D and how the immune system reacts to cancer cells among a huge human population sample for the initial time.

Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most frequent cancer and 4th major cause of cancer death globally, with respect to background information in the research. In the United States, it is the 2nd major trigger of cancer death. CDC states that Around 51,780 individuals died from the condition in 2011.

Earlier study has suggested that vitamin D could have a precautionary effect towards colorectal cancer. The vitamin is obtained through exposure to natural light along with specific foods and supplements.

The role of vitamin D inside the body is to support the immune system and play a role to calcium absorption and the development and repair of bones. Some research have also connected vitamin D with decreasing the possibility of multiple sclerosis, asthma symptoms and cardiac arrest.

Senior author of the study Dr. Shuji Ogino states that, individuals with higher levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream have a reduced entire risk of developing colorectal cancer. Laboratory investigation suggests that vitamin D increases immune system functionality by initiating T cells that identify and harm cancer cells.

Immune system and cancer risk
“In this research, we wished to identify if these two phenomena are connected,” explains Dr. Ogino. “Does vitamin D’s function in the immune system account for the decrease rates of colorectal cancer in individuals with high circulating levels of the vitamin?”

For the research, the scientists evaluated information from 170,000 individuals of two long-term study projects – the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professional Follow-up Study.

The research team hypothesized that if the two phenomena were associated, colorectal cancers developing in individuals with high levels of vitamin D would probably be more tolerant to the cells of the immune system than those developing in individuals with decrease levels of the vitamin.

From the data pool, the scientists chose 940 individuals – 318 with colorectal cancer and 622 who were free from cancer. Each individual had a blood sample obtained in the 1990s, at a time before any of the individuals had developed cancer. These samples were then examined for a substance developed in the liver from vitamin D.
Individuals with high quantities of the compound – 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) – were identified by the investigators to be less probably to develop colorectal tumors permeated with huge numbers of immune system cells, indicating that their hypothesis was appropriate.

Results ‘indicate primary laboratory findings’
“This is the initial research to show proof of the effect of vitamin D on anti-cancer immune functionality in actual patients, and signifies basic laboratory findings that vitamin D can communicate with the immune system to increase the body’s protection against cancer,” suggests Dr. Ogino.

Unmeasured factors may have affected on the research’s results, acknowledge the authors. They write that the results have to be replicated in other research, “given the originality of the current study.”

Additional proof for vitamin D’s cancer-fighting features is offered in further research from researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. A team, lead by medical oncologist Dr. Kimmie Ng, noticed that sufferers with metastatic colorectal cancer and higher levels of vitamin D before therapy survived more time than sufferers with reduced levels of the vitamin in their bloodstream.

“This is the biggest research that has been performed of metastatic colorectal cancer sufferers and vitamin D,” states Dr. Ng. “It’s additional supportive of the possible advantages of maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D in enhancing individual survival times.”

Adding to above statement Ogino said, “We may be capable to estimate how growing an individual’s vitamin D consumption and immune function can decrease his or her risk of colorectal cancer.”