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All hail vitamin D! It can even prevent side-effects of anti-cancer immunotherapy

Published on:22 June 2020, 18:10pm IST
Yes, you read it right! Who would have thought that vitamin D can do the trick when it comes to rescuing a cancer patient from the side-effects of anti-cancer immunotherapy.
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Vitamin D literally has sunshine to offer cancer patients: Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Finally, there is some news that we all can cherish and this time, the credit goes to vitamin D. We all know how important vitamin D is for our body and sadly most of us are deficient in it. But we are giving you the best possible reason to make this nutrient a part of your daily routine.

A recent finding published in the journal CANCER, reviewed by the American Cancer Society (ACS), says that vitamin D supplements might be able to help prevent a potentially serious side effect of a revolutionary form of anti-cancer therapy. Cheers!

Vitamin D helps in evoking the immune system of your body
If your immunity is locked, then vitamin D is the key to it. According to researchers, immune checkpoint inhibitors help the immune system find and fight cancer cells. And these treatments have shown fair results, giving cancer patients prolonged lives. But this line of treatment also comes with certain side effects like colitis, an inflammatory reaction in the colon.

vitamin D
Time to bring the vitamin D levels up in your body. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“Immune checkpoint inhibitor-induced colitis can limit the use of such life-saving drugs leading to discontinuation of treatment. While it is one of the most common and severe adverse events of immunotherapy, there is a lack of understanding of the risk factors that could be modified to prevent colitis,” said Osama Rahma, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, in Boston.

Researchers examined whether taking vitamin D supplements might reduce the risk of colitis in patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors to treat their cancer. The team chose this strategy because previous studies have found that vitamin D may affect the immune system in cases of autoimmune disorders and inflammatory bowel disease.

A whopping 65% drop was seen in the development of colitis in those who took vitamin D
This study included information on 213 patients with melanoma who received immune checkpoint inhibitors between 2011 and 2017. Thirty-seven (17%) of these patients developed colitis. Sixty-six patients in the study (31%) took vitamin D supplements before starting treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

You will be surprised to know that patients who took vitamin D had 65% lower odds of developing colitis, after adjustments for confounding factors. These findings were validated in another group of 169 patients, of whom 49 (29%) developed colitis. In this validation group, use of vitamin D was linked with 54% lower odds of developing colitis.

“Our findings of a link between vitamin D intake and reduced risk for colitis could potentially impact practice if validated in future prospective studies. Vitamin D supplementation should be tested further to determine if it could be a safe, easily accessible, and cost-effective approach towards preventing immunotherapy’s gastrointestinal toxicity and extending the effectiveness of immune checkpoint inhibitor treatment in cancer patients,” said Dr Rahma. 

The best sources of vitamin D
Do you know that a study conducted by researchers at UK’s Anglia Ruskin University claims to have found a “significant crude relationship between average vitamin D levels and the number covid-19 cases, and particularly covid-19 mortality rates.”

Vitamin D
Vitamin D rich food is all you need for better health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Now you have two great reasons to be ready with a strong immune system by including vitamin D in your diet. How? Well, by eating salmon fish, yoghurt, low-fat milk, mushrooms, orange juice, cod liver oil, and eggs. In fact, according to experts you should also expose yourself to direct sunlight for 15 to 20 minutes every day, especially during morning hours as sunlight is the best source of vitamin D.

So, don’t wait and watch because now you know why vitamin D is a must.

(With inputs from ANI)

1 Comment

  1. Im stage 4 breast cancer ,which spreads to my lungs an other parts of my body ,im hv been on the pills almost 6 mths now ,an im using vitamins D along with vitamin C ,an im feeling better,

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