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High level of Vitamin D may lower cancer risk

Raghu Kshitiz

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High levels of vitamin D may be linked to a lower risk of developing cancer, including liver cancer, a study published in the British Medical Journal has said.

The study, conducted by a team of international researchers in Japan, stated that the findings support the theory that vitamin D might help protect against some cancers.

Vitamin D is made by the skin in response to sunlight. It helps to maintain calcium levels in the body to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. While the benefits of vitamin D on bone diseases are well known, there is growing evidence that Vitamin D may benefit other chronic diseases, including some cancers.

“We believe vitamin D has a maybe weak, but beneficial effect across many cancers,” said Taiki Yamaji, co-author of the study from the Center for Public Health Sciences at the National Cancer Center in Tokyo.

But so far, most studies have been carried out in European or American populations, and evidence from Asian populations is limited.

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As Vitamin D concentrations and metabolism can vary by ethnicity, it is important to find out whether similar effects would be seen in non-Caucasian populations.

Researchers analysed data from the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective (JPHC) Study, involving 33,736 male and female participants aged between 40 to 69 years.

Participants, at the start of the study, provided detailed information on their medical history, diet, lifestyle, and blood samples were taken to measure vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D levels varied depending on the time of year the sample was taken, tend to be higher during the summer and autumn months than in the winter or spring.

After accounting for this seasonal variation, samples were split into four groups, ranging from the lowest to highest levels of vitamin D.

Participants were then monitored for an average of 16 years, during which time 3,301 new cases of cancer were recorded.

After adjusting for several known cancer risk factors, such as age, weight (BMI), physical activity levels, smoking, alcohol intake and dietary factors, the researchers found that a higher level of vitamin D was associated with a lower (around 20 percent) relative risk of overall cancer in both men and women.

Higher vitamin D levels were also associated with a lower (30-50 percent) relative risk of liver cancer, and the association was more evident in men than in women.

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No association was found for lung or prostate cancer, and the authors note that none of the cancers examined showed an increased risk associated with higher vitamin D levels.

Findings were largely unchanged after accounting for additional dietary factors and after further analyses to test the strength of the results.

The authors said their findings support the theory that vitamin D may protect against the risk of cancer, but that there may be a ceiling effect, which may suggest that there are no additional benefits beyond a certain level of vitamin D.

With Agency Inputs

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Sudden cardiac arrests are more likely to happen on any day at any time : Study

Raghu Kshitiz

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A new study has showed that sudden cardiac arrests are more likely to happen on any day at any time, challenging previous claims that weekday mornings — especially Mondays — were the danger zones.

Previously heart experts have long believed that weekday mornings were the danger zones for unexpected deaths from sudden cardiac arrests.

“While there are likely several reasons to explain why more cardiac arrests happen outside of previously identified peak times, stress is likely a major factor,” said Sumeet Chugh, a Professor of medicine from the Smidt Heart Institute in the US.

“We now live in a fast-paced, ‘always on’ era that causes increased psycho-social stress and possibly an increase in the likelihood of sudden cardiac arrest,” Chugh added.

Almost 17 million cardiac deaths occur annually worldwide while the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest is less than one per cent.

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For the study, published in the journal Heart Rhythm, Chugh’s team analysed data on 1,535 from the community-based Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study between 2004 to 2014, among which only 13.9 per cent died in the early morning hours, the findings revealed.

All reported cases were based on emergency medical service reports containing detailed information regarding the cause of the cardiac arrest.

“Because sudden cardiac arrest is usually fatal, we have to prevent it before it strikes,” Chugh said. “Our next steps are to conclusively determine the underlying reasons behind this shift, then identify public health implications as a result,” he added.

Apart from stress, other contributing factors may be a shift in how high-risk patients are being treated, as well as inadequacies in how past studies have measured time of death caused by sudden cardiac arrest.

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