According to a new study from Spain, high blood vitamin D concentrations are associated with a lower risk of developing bladder cancer.
In the observational study, vitamin D concentrations in blood samples from more than 2,000 individuals, including bladder cancer patients and disease-free control subjects, were measured (1). The study results showed that those participants with higher levels of 25(OH)D3, a stable form of vitamin D in the blood, had a significantly lower risk of bladder cancer. This protective effect was more evident in patients with more aggressive bladder cancer. Using in vitro molecular analysis, the researchers demonstrated that vitamin D is involved in regulating the expression of a protein (FGFR3) contributing to the development of bladder cancer. High levels of vitamin D were mainly found to decrease the risk of developing the type of bladder cancer that is most likely to metastasize at low levels of FGFR3.
The researchers commented that these findings indicate that high levels of vitamin D can protect against the disease. Increased intake of vitamin D through normal diet or supplements, or through a controlled increase in sun exposure, may be beneficial in terms of prevention and treatment of bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer is a serious public health problem in many countries, especially in Spain, where there are 11,200 new cases each year, one of the highest incidence rates worldwide. Recent studies have associated low vitamin D levels with an increased risk of developing other cancers, such as breast and colon. It is still not fully understood which molecular pathways use this vitamin to fight cancer or what its role is in protecting against other tumor types.