Vitamin D can potentially prevent cancer
A team of researchers led by McGill Professors John White and David Goltzman, of the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Physiology, discovered the molecular mechanisms underlying vitamin D potential to prevent cancer. According to study results published in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the active form of vitamin D inhibits both production and function of a protein called cMYC. cMYC protein is elevated in most tumors and is correlated with growth and cell proliferation in cancer.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has two sources: endogenous and exogenous. Endogenous source is represented by synthesis of this vitamin in the skin by ultraviolet rays. It is important to remember that sun exposure is essential for vitamin D synthesis in the skin, so it is recommended taking vitamin D supplements in winter. Transforming 7-dehydrocholesterol in cholecalciferol is made in the skin through a non-enzymatic reaction. Then, cholecalciferol is converted in the liver to 25-hydroxycholecalciferol, but this compound has low enzymatic activity. Therefore, in kidneys it will undergo another transformation and thus the active vitamin D 3 (1, 25 dihydroxycholecalciferol) is formed. Exogenous vitamin D intake comes from foods like salmon, catfish, sardines, tuna etc.
Vitamin D has many effects in the body, although the most popular are on the phosphocalcic metabolism. Vitamin D promotes absorption of calcium and phosphate in the intestine as well as mobilization of calcium from bone. In addition to these actions, the effects of vitamin D have been extensively studied in recent years. Thus, it appears that vitamin D is involved in immune stimulation in preventing or protecting cardiovascular disease, cancer prevention etc. There have been studies that have shown that vitamin D is correlated with certain cancers such as cancers of the digestive tract, colon cancer and certain forms of leukemia.
Professor White said that his team of researchers studied the molecular mechanisms of vitamin D in human cancer cells, especially the role to stop proliferation. After numerous studies, it was found that vitamin D not only can control the production rate but also the cMYC degradation rate. What is interesting is that it was discovered that this vitamin stimulates the production of a natural antagonist of cMYC Called MXD1, which stops cMYC function.
To check the effects of vitamin D on protein cMYC, researchers have made some experiments on laboratory animals. They found that if vitamin D is administered to mice, there is a decrease in the level of cMYC and a reduction in its activity. Conversely, in mice that lacked the specific receptor for vitamin D, so those who could not absorb vitamin D, cMYC level was high.