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Low vitamin D levels 'linked to bladder cancer risk'

09 November 2016 08:06

Food such as egg yolks and red meat contain vitamin D

Food such as egg yolks and red meat contain vitamin D

People who do not get enough vitamin D have a higher chance of getting bladder cancer, a new study suggests.

Experts say the findings stress the importance of getting the right levels of the vitamin.

Vitamin D levels are hard to maintain in Winter

During the summer months most people get all the vitamin D they need from the sunlight.

But during the winter, it can be difficult to maintain appropriate levels, despite it being present in foods such as oily fish, red meat, egg yolks and some fortified foods.

The new study, which is to be presented to the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Brighton, examined seven previous studies which looked at bladder cancer and vitamin D.

Low vitamin D levels have been associated with bladder cancer risk in five of the seven studies.

The researchers, from the University of Warwick and University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, also looked at bladder cells.

Findings could be used in cancer prevention

After examining the cells that line the organ, known as transitional epithelial cells, the authors concluded that these cells are able to activate and respond to vitamin D, which in turn can stimulate an immune response.

Dr Rosemary Bland, lead author of the study, said: "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.

"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."

Across the UK there were more than 10,000 new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed in 2013, according to Cancer Research UK figures.

And in 2014, more than 5,300 people died from the disease.

It has been estimated that as many as one in five UK adults are vitamin D deficient, and three in five have low levels.

In July, Public Health England said that people should consider taking supplements in the winter to ensure they are getting enough vitamin D.

It urged everyone to ensure they are getting 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day, and to consider a supplement, while breastfed babies and young children must be given a supplement to boost their intake.

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