Study: Lower levels of vitamin D linked to greater cancer risk in smokers

WASHINGTON — Lower levels of vitamin D may predispose smokers to developing tobacco-related cancer, according to research published last week by Clinical Chemistry, the journal of the American Association of Clinical Chemistry. Consequently, study authors suggested that vitamin D blood tests and supplements have the potential to improve smokers’ health.

“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 Børge Nordestgaard. “This is important for future studies investigating the association between plasma vitamin D and risk of cancer.”

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, Nordestgaard noted. 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.

Cigarette smoking accounts for more U.S. deaths annually than HIV, illegal drugs, alcohol, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined. It is the primary causal factor for at least 30% of all cancer deaths, and can lead to multiple kinds of cancer, including bladder, cervical, esophageal, head and neck, kidney, liver, lung, pancreatic and stomach, as well as myeloid leukemia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the healthcare expenditures and productivity losses due to smoking cost the economy approximately $193 billion per year.


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