Vitamin D Deficiency and Cancer

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Cancer, by definition, is a mutation or abnormal cell growth caused by internal and/or external factors that act together to form carcinogenesis (1). Cancer cells are able to continue to grow, and mutate, spreading in to other tissues which is not a function of normal cells. Cancer cells also have the unique quality of avoiding apoptosis, cell death, which allows for the continuation and growth of the cancer. Cancer will be a diagnosis received by an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States this year alone. 1500 cancer patients will die each day. The National Institute of Health estimates the direct medical costs related to a diagnosis of cancer will be near 102.8 billion dollars (1). Many cancers have been linked to common causes. For example, lung cancer is easily associated with the external factor of smoking. Colon, breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer have an unknown association of a lack of sun exposure, or vitamin D. An inverse relationship has been researched and found that those diagnosed with a deficiency in vitamin D can be at a higher risk for developing these forms of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, 209,060 cases of breast cancer, 21,880 cases of ovarian cancer, 217,730 cases of prostate cancer, and 102,900 cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed in 2010 across the United States (1). Adequate intake or supplementation of vitamin D is a factor that can decrease this risk. The common health benefits from vitamin D include improvement in muscle strength, increased immune function, decreased inflammation, promotion of calcium absorption from the small intestine, and helps maintain blood levels of calcium and phosphate needed for bone formation, growth and repair (NIH). Vitamin D is commonly linked with osteoporosis, bone fractures and bone disease; however it is now being researched due to its link with cancer (Garland, 2006).

Vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight, dietary intake of fatty fish...
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