Researchers provide further evidence that vitamin D may protect against cancer, after finding that people from Japan had a lower risk of the disease when they had higher levels of the "sunshine vitamin."
The results of the study — which is one of the first to investigate the link between vitamin D levels and cancer risk in an Asian population
The research was conducted by Taiki Yamaji, of the Center for Public Health Sciences of the National Cancer Center in Japan, and her colleagues.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for our bodies. It not only helps to maintain calcium levels for good bone health; it also plays significant roles in immune system functioning, neuronal communication, and muscle functioning.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) say that adults should aim to get around 600 International Units of vitamin D every day.
The body's main source of vitamin D is sunlight, which is why it is often referred to as the "sunshine vitamin." We can also get vitamin D from certain foods, including salmon, tuna, and cheese, as well as from dietary supplements, which are available to purchase online.
Previous research has suggested that low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for certain cancer types, and that increasing levels of the vitamin could help to protect against the disease.
However, Yamaji and colleagues point out that most research on vitamin D and cancer risk to date has focused on white populations.
"Given that vitamin D concentrations and metabolism vary substantially by race/ethnicity," note the researchers, "whether similar associations would also be observed in non-Caucasian populations remains to be clarified."
With this in mind, the researchers sought to determine how vitamin D levels influence the risk of cancer in Japanese adults.