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Study Finds That High Levels of Vitamin D Protect Against Bladder Cancer

Vitamin regulates protein involved in cancer development (Oct. 30)

According to a study conducted in Spain, high levels of vitamin D are associated with protection against bladder cancer. The findings were published in the October 30 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Investigators from the Spanish National Cancer Research Center in Madrid took blood samples from more than 2,000 individuals — including patients with bladder cancer and cancer-free control subjects — in 18 Spanish hospitals.

“We have seen that those subjects with the highest levels of 25(OH)D3, a stable form of vitamin D in the blood, are those who showed the lowest risk of bladder cancer,” said study leader Dr. Núria Malats. “These results indicate that high levels of this vitamin are associated with protection from the illness or, similarly, that low levels are associated with a higher risk of suffering from it.”

Study co-leader Dr. Francisco Real added: “We have also shown, using in vitro molecular analysis, that vitamin D regulates the expression of a protein — FGFR3 — that takes part in the development of bladder cancer.”

According to the study findings, this protective effect is more apparent in patients with aggressive cancers.

“We observed that high levels of vitamin D diminish, above all, the risk of developing invasive bladder cancer with low levels of FGFR3 — which is to say, those cancers with the highest probability of metastizing,” said Dr. André Amaral, the study’s lead author.

According to the investigators, the research results suggest that an increase in vitamin D through dietary or supplementary intake or via a controlled increase in sun exposure might be beneficial in terms of preventing bladder cancer or treating the disease.

Recent studies have linked vitamin D levels with other cancers, including breast and colon cancer. Researchers, however, have not identified the molecular routes that the vitamin uses in providing its apparent protective effects.

Source: Spanish National Cancer Research Center, October 30, 2012.

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