Can Vitamin D Cut the Risk of Cancer Deaths, Including Mesothelioma?

There is no doubt that malignant mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. What is less clear is why some people exposed to the carcinogen actually get sick while others escape that fate. While some scientists work to find a cure, others are investigating how those at risk may protect themselves. One recent study is indicating that supplementing with vitamin D may decrease the risk of death.

Exposure to Sunlight Linked to Lower Incidence and Death Rates from Certain Cancers

Researchers working to extend life for patients with mesothelioma and other cancers are looking at lab studies showing that vitamin D slows cancer progression. Years ago it was determined that people who live near the equator, where sunlight produces more Vitamin D, have lower death rates from some cancers. While a 2018 study initially concluded that the vitamin didn’t cut the incidence of cancer but might cut the risk of death, a second look at its results is suggesting a 17 percent risk reduction for advanced cancer.

The secondary analysis identified an additional factor — having a normal body mass index — that cut risk of diagnosis with advanced cancers like mesothelioma. They found that patients who were of a normal weight and who took vitamin D supplements had a 38 percent risk reduction.

Combining Vitamin D Supplements and Normal Body Weight Can Reduce Cancer Risk

Writing in the journal JAMA Open Network, study author and epidemiologist Paulette Chandler, MD, MPH of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of Preventive Medicine wrote, “These findings suggest that vitamin D may reduce the risk of developing advanced cancers. Vitamin D is a supplement that’s readily available, cheap and has been used and studied for decades. Our findings, especially the strong risk reduction seen in individuals with normal weight, provide new information about the relationship between vitamin D and advanced cancer.”

The reduction in cancer-related deaths included a wide range of invasive cancers, many of which share characteristics with malignant mesothelioma.  Over 25,000 people participated in the study, and of that group almost 13,000 received vitamin D supplements. 226 of them were diagnosed with advanced cancers, while the group that did not take vitamin D had 274 diagnosed with advanced cancers. Breaking the group down even farther, of the 7,843 participants who had a normal body mass index, 96 who did not take vitamin D were diagnosed with advanced cancer, compared to 58 who were taking vitamin D.

Vitamin D Deficiency Common in Mesothelioma Patients

Previous studies have shown that patients diagnosed with mesothelioma and other cancers are frequently deficient in vitamin D, with one study pointing to a deficiency as high as 72%. Another study showed that higher body fat levels are associated with increased cancer risk. The most recent study concludes that supplementing with vitamin D to prevent metastatic cancer may be “biologically plausible.”

Researchers are working to protect those exposed to asbestos from malignant mesothelioma from many different angles. For additional resources and information, contact the Patient Advocates at today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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