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Vitamin D Deficiency Is Linked to Bladder Cancer

People who are deficient in the sunshine vitamin (vitamin D) are at greater risk of developing bladder cancer as well as other health problems.

Epidemiologists have linked vitamin D deficiency to several cancers, including those of the breast, colon, pancreas and prostate. British researchers report that low levels of vitamin D also increases the likelihood of developing bladder cancer.

What Is the Evidence for a Link with Bladder Cancer?

The investigators reached this conclusion through a systematic review of seven studies. They also tested cells from the lining of the bladder and found that vitamin D activated an immune response. They inferred that adequate vitamin D would stimulate these cells to fight off cancer.

Inadequate Vitamin D:

In northern countries with little sunlight, people have trouble maintaining adequate vitamin D levels. That is because sun-exposed skin manufactures this crucial compound. Without sun, the chemical reaction does not happen.

Vitamin D in Great Britain:

The authors point out that one in five British adults are deficient in this nutrient and 60 percent have low blood levels. Even experts do not know whether supplementation can reverse the cancer risk.

Society for Endocrinology Annual Meeting, Brighton, UK, November 8, 2016

Is Vitamin D Deficiency a Problem in the US?

Far more of the U.S. lies in southern latitudes where sun exposure is strong, at least during the summer. According to the CDC, around two-thirds of the US population have sufficient levels of vitamin D. That means, however, that nearly one in three Americans is at risk for insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels.

Not only does this increase the chance of bladder cancer, it also makes middle-aged adults more susceptible to calcified coronary arteries (Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Sep-Oct., 2016). It may also contribute to inflammatory bowel disease (Current Medicinal Chemistry, Oct. 26, 2016). People with low vitamin D levels are also more vulnerable to gum disease (BMC Oral Health, Sep. 2, 2016). Erectile dysfunction is more common among men with vitamin D deficiency (Atherosclerosis, Sep., 2016).

We discuss this critical vitamin and how it affects our health in our Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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