Research has shown that bowel cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood are more likely to survive the disease.
Patients with the highest levels of vitamin D were found to have half the risk of dying compared with those with the lowest levels. The study is the first to correlate total blood levels of vitamin D in bowel cancer patients after their diagnosis – which includes that produced after exposure to sunlight and that obtained from dietary sources – with their long term survival prospects.
The University of Edinburgh team tested blood samples from almost 1600 patients after surgery for bowel cancer. The greatest benefit of vitamin D was seen in patients with stage 2 disease, at which the tumour may be quite large but the cancer has not yet spread.
Researchers found that three quarters of the patients with the highest vitamin D levels were still alive at the end of five years, compared with less than two thirds of those with the lowest levels. The results show that vitamin D is associated with a much better chance of cancer survival, although the nature of this relationship is not clear from this study.
The study’s authors aim to set up a clinical trial to test whether taking vitamin D tablets in combination with chemotherapy can improve bowel cancer survival rates. Measuring vitamin D levels in bowel cancer patients could also provide a useful indication of prognosis, the scientists say.
Professor Malcolm Dunlop, of the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Our findings are promising but it is important to note that this is an observational study. We need carefully designed randomised clinical trials before we can confirm whether taking vitamin D supplements offers any survival benefit for bowel cancer patients.”
The research, funded by Cancer Research UK, is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Congratulations to Dr Patrick Pollard on his notable achievement in winning the 1st prize of Agilent Outstanding Investigator Award at this year’s Annual International Conference of the Metabolomics Society...Read more
Congratulations to Professor David Cameron on his recent appointment as the Scottish Cancer Research Champion by the CSO.
This is a newly created role intended to unite regional cancer activity across Scotland, and provide a single voice for driving forward Scottish cancer research.
Professor Cameron is the Clinical Director at the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre and Director of Cancer Services at NHS Lothian. As Professor of Oncology at Edinburgh University he is also an active researcher, with an interest in breast cancer.
It is the first time that cancer in Scotland has a single research clinical lead. Professor Cameron said “This role will provide national leadership in the development of clinical research activity within cancer in Scotland".
Professors Ian Jackson (MRC Human Genetics Unit at the IGMM) and Cathy Abbott (Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine at the IGMM) visited the House of Lords on 30th June to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).
The NC3Rs is an independent scientific organisation that supports the UK science base by driving and funding innovation and technological developments that replace or reduce the need for animals in research and testing, as well as leading on improvements in welfare where animals continue to be used. It promotes robust and ethical scientific practice through collaborating with research funders, academia, industry, regulators and animal welfare organisations, both in the UK and internationally.
The IGMM continues to support the NC3Rs, with Professor Jackson sitting on their Fellowships Committee, both Professor Jackson and Professor Abbott sitting on the Project Grants Committee and Professor Val Brunton (Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre at the IGMM) sitting on the Studentships Committee.