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Vitamin D may indeed help fight cancer

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By David Liu

Friday April 27, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Many studies have suggested that high levels of serum vitamin D may help prevent cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer, but the mechanism(s) remains unknown.

A new report released on Feb 24, 2012 in the scientific journal Mutation Research provides evidence to suggest that vitamin D prevents the cancer development through its protective effect against DNA damage by free radicals which have been suspected for long to cause a variety of cancers.

Vitamin D is a secosteroid hormone that is well known for its role in maintaining bone and muscle health.  It has also been known that vitamin D may play a  role in maintaining DNA integrity, according to the authors of the report.

Nair-Shalliker V of Cancer Council New South Wales in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and colleagues said vitamin D helps maintain DNA integrity by  primarily preventing DNA from being damaged and secondly regulating the growth rate of cells.

The authors said at least one trial shows that vitamin D supplements reduced 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine, a marker of oxidative damage, in colorectal epithelial crypt cells, suggesting that vitamin D can reduce oxidative damage in humans.

Both animal studies and cell culture studies show that vitamin D treatment drastically reduced oxidative stress damage and chromosomal aberrations, and prevented telomere shortening and inhibiting telomerase activity, which also suggested that vitamin D maybe extend lifespan in humans.

Vitamin D was also found to be involved in regulation of the poly-ADP-ribose polymerase activity, which can be triggered by DNA damage.

Additionally, vitamin D regulates the cell cycle in a way to prevent the propagation of damaged DNA, and to regulate apoptosis to promote cell death.  Cell death is less common than cell growth in cancer cells, which is why cancer cells keep growing.

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