Vitamin D supplements have been used for a very long time to prevent colon cancer. But a new study, which was published in the New England journal of Medicine, shows otherwise.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colon cancer is the number two cancer killer in the U.S. The risk for colorectal cancer increases as a person ages; over 90 percent of people with colon cancer are 50 years old or more. Studies have suggested that the risk for developing colorectal cancer can be reduced by having a low-fat, high-fiber diet, doing regular exercise and avoiding alcohol consumption.
Taking vitamin D, calcium, or a combination of the two supplements, failed to prevent the recurrence of precancerous colorectal polyps in a large, randomized, placebo-controlled trial that followed patients for up to 5 years.
It has been discovered that vitamin D supplements do not prevent pre-cancerous colon polyps. According to John Baron, study’s lead author and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, many people have given vitamin D appreciation because it is considered to prevent many health problems. The study has, however, proved something different.
The researchers enrolled 2,259 people between the ages of 45 and 75, and who have undergone surgery to remove at least one adenoma (a type of benign tumor that forms in epithelial tissue). The participants were asked to take pills of 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 1,000 IU of vitamin D, both or not at all.
The next stage of the study involved participants who had undergone colonoscopy after 3 to 5 years. The researchers found that a new polyp developed in 43 to 45 percent of the participants regardless of whether they had taken the supplement or not.
The researchers also found that even after considering factors like gender and age, there was no difference in the results.
“There is mounting evidence that vitamin D does not prevent cancer,” said Barnett Kramer, director of the division of cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute.
The researchers also said they would rule out the possibility of vitamin D preventing advanced stages of colon cancer.
The negative findings came as a surprise because they contradict years of previous observational and animal studies suggesting a protective role for the supplements in preventing precancerous polyps, researcher John Baron, MD, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and colleagues wrote in the Oct. 15 issue of New England Journal of Medicine.