Research over the past decade has shown vitamin D plays an undeniably essential role in the health and well being of all people. Yet, by some estimates, half of the world’s population is deficient in this important vitamin.
Now, new research has suggested that for women with ovarian cancer, vitamin D may be the difference between life and death.
Women with ovarian cancer who are also vitamin D deficient are more likely to die than ovarian cancer patients with sufficient vitamin D levels, a new observational study suggested.
Researchers led by Dr. Małgorzata Walentowicz-Sadlecka at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland, examined a potential link between vitamin D blood serum levels and the five-year survival rates of 72 epithelial ovarian cancer patients, aged 37-79, who had undergone optimal cytoreductive surgery.
Vitamin D plays a much broader disease-fighting role than originally thought. Recent studies show having low vitamin D blood levels increases the risk of getting a host of chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and some cancers.
Low vitamin D is linked to an increased risk of infectious diseases too, such as tuberculosis — even seasonal flu, according to Harvard School of Public Health.
Results from an unrelated 2011 study showed that having adequate levels of vitamin D is considered to be a significant factor in inhibiting malignant tumor growth.
For this new study, participants’ vitamin D levels were tested before surgery and compared to vitamin D serum levels of a control group of 65 healthy non-obese women aged 35-65 years.
Researchers found that as a group, ovarian cancer patients had significantly lower vitamin D3 serum levels (12.5 ng/mL) than healthy women in the control group (22.4 ng/mL).
However, when researchers divided the study group into two subgroups and survival rates were analyzed, ovarian cancer patients whose vitamin D blood serum was higher than 10 ng/mL were more likely to realize a five-year survival rate than those with a blood serum level lower than 10 ng/mL.