1 in 6 UK adults have vitamin deficiency linked to ‘tumour progression’

Cancer risk increases as you age. The older you get, the more likely you’re to develop cancer. However, there are modifiable risk factors for cancer.

In fact, 4 in 10 cancers are preventable. Research has found an association between low vitamin D levels and “metastasis and tumour progression”, warned Doctor Tariq Mahmood, Medical Director of Concepto Diagnostics.

Vitamin D is commonly branded the “sunshine vitamin” because your skin makes it through exposure to sunlight.

A mice study was published in the journal Endocrinology, which suggested that being deficient in vitamin D may promote the spread of certain types of breast cancer. The study mostly used cell lines and mice and identified a link between vitamin D levels and the expression of an oncogene called ID1.

This oncogene – a mutated gene that has the potential to cause cancer – has been linked to tumour growth and metastasis in certain types of cancer including breast cancer.

Once your body extracts vitamin D from food and supplements, it’s converted into a hormone called calcitriol.

Calcitriol spreads to several different body tissues, including breast tissue. Calcitriol binds to the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which regulates a large number of genes, some of which are associated with cancer.

Patients with breast cancer typically have pre-existing vitamin D deficiencies by the time a cancerous tumour develops.