Vitamin D Deficiency May Raise Bladder Cancer Risk

Vitamin D deficiency can increase a person’s risk of developing bladder cancer, warns a study by Brit researchers.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient needed for strong bones, muscle growth and absorption of calcium from the diet. Traditionally, deficiency of this vitamin has been linked to an array of health conditions including rickets (a skeletal disorder), cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, autoimmune conditions, and cancer.

Adding to the growing list of health problems pertaining to lack of vitamin D in the body, the new study by University of Warwick linked lack of Vitamin D to increased risk of bladder cancer.

Vitamin D is also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because our body produces it through direct exposure to sunlight. This nutrient can also be obtained through Vitamin D-rich foods like milk, cheese, egg yolks and fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel, or supplements. Certain foods and beverages like breakfast cereals, soy products, yogurt, margarines and orange juice are sometimes fortified with this vitamin.

The University of Warwick study examined the transitional epithelial cells that line the bladder, and found that these cells are able to activate and respond to Vitamin D, which in turn can activate immune system in the the bladder to fight off abnormal cells.

It is estimated that in seven out of ten bladder cancer patients, cancerous cells are contained inside the lining of their bladder.

To explore the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and bladder cancer risk, researchers from the University of Warwick and University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire identified 287 citations, of which they finalized 7 studies that included 112–125 patients each.

Five out of the 7 studies linked low levels of sunshine vitamin levels to a higher risk of bladder cancer. The higher levels of vitamin D, n the other hand, were linked to better survival and outcomes.

“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,” said lead author Dr Rosemary Bland, from the University of Warwick in Britain.

“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 added.

Based on the systematic review of seven studies, the study authors suggested it is of utmost importance to maintain adequate Vitamin D levels.

The findings were presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Brighton.