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Hopes Dashed That Vitamin D Reduces Cancer Risk

Researchers did find those with high levels more likely to develop pancreatic cancer

FRIDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- New research appears to dash hopes that people who consume more vitamin D might be at less risk of developing several less-common types of cancer.

Researchers found no link between higher blood levels of vitamin D and lower rates of non-Hodgkin lymphoma or cancers of the endometrium, esophagus, stomach, kidney, ovary and pancreas.

Vitamin D is obtained by the body through exposure to sunlight, certain foods such as oily fish, fortified foods and nutritional supplements.

Authors of a new study analyzed blood samples drawn from more than 12,000 men and women in 10 studies. The previous studies followed the patients for as long as 33 years, allowing researchers to determine if they developed cancer.

"We did not see lower cancer risk in persons with high vitamin D blood concentrations compared to normal concentrations for any of these cancers," said study co-investigator Dr. Demetrius Albanes of the U.S. National Cancer Institute in an institute news release. "And, at the other end of the vitamin D spectrum, we did not see higher cancer risk for participants with low levels."

However, the researchers did find that people with high levels of vitamin D were more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. It's not clear if there's a cause-and-effect relationship, and the study authors called for more research to assess the possible association.

The findings were published online June 18 in advance of print publication in the July issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

More information

For more about vitamin D, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: U.S. National Cancer Institute, press release, June 18, 2010

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