Updated on 19 March 2013
Smoking kills - More so when you lack vitamin D
Singapore: A new research published in Clinical Chemistry, the journal of AACC, shows that decreased levels of vitamin D may predispose smokers to developing tobacco-related cancer. This study illustrates that simple vitamin D blood tests and supplements have the potential to improve smokers' health.
The research measured plasma vitamin D levels in blood samples collected in 1981-83 from 10,000 Danes from the general population. Researchers then followed the study participants for up to 28 years through the Danish Cancer Registry. Of the participants, 1,081 eventually developed a tobacco-related cancer. The authors determined that the median vitamin D concentration among these participants was only 14.8 ng/mL, versus the higher 16.4 ng/mL median concentration found for all participants together.
These results show for the first time that the risk of tobacco-related cancers as a group is associated with lower concentrations of vitamin D. The data also indicate that tobacco smoke chemicals may influence vitamin D metabolism and function, while vitamin D may conversely modify the carcinogenicity of tobacco smoke chemicals.
If further research confirms this, it would be consistent with previous studies demonstrating the anti-tumorigenic effects of vitamin D derivatives, as well as the correlation of vitamin D deficiency with favorable cancer-forming conditions and increased susceptibility to tobacco smoke carcinogens. Interestingly, though, low vitamin D levels were not connected with risk of other cancer types.
"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," stated author Dr Borge G Nordestgaard, in the paper. "This is important for future studies investigating the association between plasma vitamin D and risk of cancer."