IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Vitamin D

17th August, 2023 Health

Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.

Context: As per studies, Vitamin D intake ‘may reduce cancer mortality in the population by 15%’

More about the study

  • Data was gathered from the UK Biobank, an online database of medical and lifestyle records of around 500,000 Britons.
  • For the study, the researchers looked at data from more than 400,000 people aged 40–69.
  • Findings of the study
  • Taking regular Vitamin D supplements may reduce cancer deaths in the population by 15%, according to scientists.
  • Findings indicate vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased cancer mortality risk, particularly in relation to bowel, stomach, prostate, and lung cancers.

Cancer deaths

  • Over a period of nearly 13 years, close to 13,000 people died of cancer.
  • Results showed a majority of the study population had either vitamin D deficiency (21.1%) or insufficiency (34.4%) – used to describe low levels of vitamin D.
  • Of the people studied, only 4.1% regularly took a vitamin D supplement and 20.3% regularly took a multivitamin.
  • Results showed that vitamin D supplement users had 15% lower total cancer mortality and 25% lower lung cancer mortality compared to those who did not take the supplement.
  • It was found that those with vitamin D deficiency had 42% increased mortality for the stomach, 27% for the bowel, 24% for the lung, and 36% for prostate cancers.
  • Meanwhile, those with vitamin D insufficiency were found to have 14% increased bowel cancer mortality and 19% increased lung cancer mortality.

Probable reason

  • Vitamin D supplements may induce anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and DNA damage repair mechanisms, which can thwart mutations that allow tumours to grow.

Criticisms of the study

  • The data might not be diverse and representative of the whole of the UK population.
  • The exact dosage taken by participants was not ascertained and the risk reduction was not the same for all cancers.
  • This research doesn’t imply that taking vitamin D3 supplements will for sure lower your risk of death from cancer.


  • The potential to reduce cancer mortality by vitamin D supplementation in populations with low levels should be further explored in new research.
  • With cancer rates rising and presenting a serious public health issue, it's useful to have further insight into the role of vitamin D in the prevention of cancer.

About vitamin D

What is vitamin D and what does it do?

  • Vitamin D is a nutrient we need for good health.
  • It helps our body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks for strong bones.


  • Together with calcium, vitamin D helps protect us from developing osteoporosis, a disease that thins and weakens the bones and makes them more likely to break.
  • Muscles need it to move, and nerves need it to carry messages between your brain and your body.
  • Our immune system needs vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.


  • Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin that has been produced on this earth for more than 500 million years.
  • During exposure to sunlight, 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin absorbs UV B radiation and is converted to vitamin D3 which in turn isomerizes into vitamin D3.
  • “Supplementation may help with consistent vitamin D levels, whereas production from sunlight can be variable and dependent on weather, time of the day, exposure duration, being outdoors or indoors, protective UV wear or sunblock, and many other factors.”
  • Common food sources of vitamin D3 include full-fat dairy, egg yolks, and fish.


Q. Recent breakthroughs in cancer research highlights the importance of Vitamins as an important micronutrient to help reduce the burden of cancer epidemic. Analyze highlighting the  importance of vitamins in our daily life. ( 250 words)