Smokers with low levels of vitamin D are more vulnerable to tobacco-related cancer, new research shows.
The study, published online in the journal Clinical Chemistry, suggests for the first time that simple vitamin D blood tests and supplements have the potential to improve smokers’ health.
To reach their conclusions, Danish researchers measured vitamin D levels in blood samples taken from 10,000 Danes between 1981 and 1983. Researchers then followed the study participants for up to 28 years through the Danish Cancer Registry.
Nearly 1,100 eventually developed a tobacco-related cancer. The researchers found those with low vitamin D concentrations were far more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than those with higher levels.
The results also indicated that tobacco smoke chemicals may influence vitamin D metabolism and function, while vitamin D may modify the carcinogenicity of tobacco smoke chemicals. Past studies have demonstrated vitamin D derivatives may have anti-cancer properties.
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“Our analyses show that the association between lower concentrations of plasma vitamin D and higher risk of cancer may be driven by tobacco-related cancer as a group, which has not been shown before,” said researcher Børge G. Nordestgaard. “This is important for future studies investigating the association between plasma vitamin D and risk of cancer.”
In the U.S., cigarette smoking accounts for more deaths than HIV, illegal drugs, alcohol, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. It causes at least 30 of all cancer deaths, including those involving disease of the bladder, cervix, esophagus, head and neck, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, and stomach, as well as myeloid leukemia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthcare expenditures and productivity losses due to smoking cost the economy approximately $193 billion per year.
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