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Vitamin D helps stop prostate cancer growth

Getting a little bit more sunshine in your life could help prevent prostate cancer from growing, new research has revealed.

Scientists have found that vitamin D, often known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, boosts a gene which blocks bodily chemicals which often encourage tumour growth.

A research team at the University of Colorado in Denver, USA, found that vitamin D increases the effectiveness of the gene GDF-15 which in turn leads to suppressed inflammation in cancerous prostate tissue.

Having inflamed tissue is one of the driving factors for tumour growth in patients suffering from cancerous conditions such as prostate cancer, gastric cancer and colon cancer, so knowing that an easily accessible vitamin can help such tissue stop encouraging tumour growth is good news for patients.

The study, carried out in America, used a sophisticated algorithm to analyse samples of prostate cells to compare the prevalence of GDF-15 and the chemicals which it blocks – NFkB.


NFkb is a known protein amongst scientists in the field. It is a protein complex which triggers inflammation and encourages the formation and growth of tumours.

Although scientists were already aware of NFkB’s effect on cells, and that it could often encourage cancer to grow and spread, they did not know how they could stop it. Now, researchers have suggested that using Vitamin D as a boost for GDF-15 could be a possible technique in the future for stopping the spread and growth of cancerous cells in some patients.

James Lambert was an investigator in the study and said, “When you take vitamin D and put it on prostate cancer cells, it inhibits their growth. But it hasn’t been proven as an anti-cancer agent. We wanted to understand what genes vitamin D is turning on or off within the cancer to offer new targets.”

He added, “Inflammation is thought to drive many cancers. Therefore GDF-15 may be a good thing in keeping prostate tissue healthy – it suppresses inflammation. There’s been a lot of work on managing to inhibit NFkB. Now, from this starting point of Vitamin D in prostate cancer, we’ve come a long way towards understanding how we might use GDF-15 to target NFkB, which may have implications in cancer types far beyond just prostate.”

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