Fortifying the diet with vitamin D to prevent death from cancer?

Germany A recent analysis suggests that an estimated 129,000 cancer deaths a year could be prevented in 34 European countries simply by adding vitamin D to common foods such as milk and margarine.

This would mean 1.2 million life-years or around 9% of cancer deaths in Europe, says the research team led by Tobias NiedermaierPhD, Epidemiologist, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.

However, experts caution that these estimates may not reflect real-world results.

The Dr JoAnn Manson who was not involved in the study, called the analysis “hypothesis-generating.”

“It is impossible to prove a cause-and-effect relationship,” said Dr. Manson, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston (Massachusetts). She says many lifestyle and environmental factors influence cancer death, and these factors can vary from country to country.

The study was published European Journal of Epidemiology [1].

What if 34 European countries fortified their food?

The benefit of vitamin D supplementation on cancer incidence and mortality is still debated. However, several recent meta-analyses have consistently reported an average 13% reduction in cancer mortality among people taking vitamin D supplements.

The authors suggest that vitamin D supplementation, that is, mixing the vitamin with foods such as margarine, vegetable oils, and dairy products, may have a similar benefit on cancer mortality.

To this end, the team decided to investigate how many cancer deaths could be prevented if all European countries made vitamin D supplementation mandatory.

Tobias Niedermaier and his colleagues examined food fortification policies in 34 European countries and found that only Finland and the United Kingdom currently require mass fortification of products including milk, margarine and certain brands of orange juice, bread and cereals. In most countries, food fortification is not mandatory or almost optional.

Using country-specific cancer death statistics, information on country-specific fortification policies, and previous research on supplement use and cancer mortality, the team calculated how many cancer deaths are already preventable with vitamin D, and estimated that about 27,000 cancer deaths occur each year deaths. in all European countries.

Assuming that all 34 countries implement effective food fortification policies

Assuming that all 34 countries implemented effective food fortification policies, as Finland and the UK have done, the authors found that an additional 129,000 cancer deaths could be avoided.

Commenting on the analysis, Susan WhitingPhD from the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada, found the effect of vitamin D supplementation on cancer mortality to be “surprising,” but noted that the study’s methodology appeared reasonable.

Nevertheless, Pan PantziarkaThe PhD, who was not involved in the study, expressed concern about possible confounders such as obesity.

“We know that the effects of vitamin D3 are mediated by obesity” and that obesity rates vary widely across Europe, said Pan Pantziarka, project manager for the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project.

In addition, as explained Dr. John M. Mandrola in a recent Medscape article“People with low levels of vitamin D suffer from other conditions or diseases that are more likely to lead to poor health. »

129,000 additional cancer deaths could be avoided

To understand the true effect of vitamin D supplementation on cancer mortality, Dr. »

The study was funded by EU member states and associated countries. The authors of the study together with dr. Manson, Whiting, and Pantziarka reported no significant financial relationships.

The article was originally published on Adding Vitamin D to Food: Can It Prevent Cancer Deaths? . Translated by Stephanie Lavaud.

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