(Medical News Today) – The study, published in Gut, contributes to a growing body of research by identifying an association between vitamin D and how the immune system responds to cancer cells among a large human population sample for the first time.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and fourth leading cause of cancer death worldwide, according to background information in the study. In the US, it is the second leading cause of cancer death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 51,783 people died from the disease in 2011.
Previous research has indicated that vitamin D could have a preventive effect against colorectal cancer. The vitamin is obtained through exposure to sunlight as well as certain foods and supplements.
The role of vitamin D within the body is to assist the immune system and contribute to calcium absorption and the growth and repair of bones. Some studies have also associated vitamin D with reducing the risk of multiple sclerosis, asthma symptoms and heart attacks.