Fortification with vitamin D in food could prevent more than 100,000 deaths

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From: Stella Henrich

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Researchers at the German Cancer Research Center have found that systematic administration of vitamin D can prevent hundreds of thousands of cancer deaths.

Bonn / Heidelberg / Munich – If all countries were fortified with vitamin D, this could prevent about 130,000 cancer deaths in Europe, according to Hermann Brenner. “That’s the equivalent of almost 1.2 million years of life,” says Brenner. The man is neither a prophet nor a seer, Brenner is a scientist at the German Cancer Research Institute (DKFZ) of the Helmholtz Association in Heidelberg. So you’d think he knew what he was talking about.

In a study, DKFZ epidemiologists led by Brenner investigated the possible effect of targeted food fortification with vitamin D on cancer mortality in Europe. The researchers gathered information on vitamin D in 34 selected European countries, and determined cancer deaths and life expectancy in each country. The researchers then combined this information with the results of studies on the effect of vitamin D administration on cancer mortality.

University of Heidelberg information signs.
Information signs for DKFZ University of Heidelberg. (Character image) © imago

Cancer research: Vitamin D supplementation prevents thousands of cancer deaths each year

Using the information and data obtained, the researchers used statistical methods to estimate the number of cancer-related deaths that are already prevented in food fortification countries. They also calculated the number of other deaths that could have been prevented if all European countries had introduced vitamin D fortification in food. The researchers concluded that vitamin D enrichment currently prevents approximately 27,000 cancer deaths per year in all European countries under consideration.

Current data on reducing cancer mortality show the huge potential that improving vitamin D intake could have, but not only for cancer prevention.

In addition, Tobias Niedermaier, a member of the Brenner research team, explains that vitamin D does not reduce the risk of cancer, “but reduces the risk of dying from cancer,” the scientist told Helmholtz Association’s in-house publication. Thus, Niedermaier is clearly for vitamin D food fortification. People would get out of vitamin D deficiency almost automatically.

Fight cancer with vitamin D supplements: orange juice, bread, milk, yogurt and oatmeal

A number of foods could be enriched, “which is the absolute base that everyone consumes or should consume,” says Niedermaier. For example, orange juice, bread, milk, yogurt, oat milk and cereals. “It’s not like you can fortify everything, because vitamin D is also lost in processing and preparation.” However, according to the researcher, the range of suitable foods is large enough to reach everyone.

In addition to the intake of vitamin D through food, a sufficient supply can also be ensured by staying in the sun: The DKFZ Oncology Information Service therefore recommends spending about twelve minutes outside in the sun two to three times a week. The face, hands and parts of the arms and legs should be exposed during this time and without sunscreen.

  • That German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) is the largest biomedical research facility in Germany with more than 3,000 employees. More than 1,300 researchers at DKFZ are researching how cancer develops, recording cancer risk factors and looking for new strategies to prevent people from developing cancer. They are developing new methods that can be used to more accurately diagnose tumors and treat cancer patients more successfully. On Cancer Information Service DKFZ, the disabled, interested citizens and professional groups receive individual answers to all questions on the topic of cancer.

    Source: DKFZ

Researchers have long warned of the risk of cancer. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), about 500,000 people get cancer in Germany every year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by 2040, there will be 29 to 37 million people worldwide who have a new cancer diagnosis. With early diagnosis, patients have the best chance of recovery.

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