vitamin D
Results showed a direct link between low level of vitamin D (25-OH) in childhood and development of increased carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) or thickening of the innermost layers of the artery wall, a well-known factor which can increase the risk of atherosclerosis.Shezamm/Flickr

Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of developing colorectal or bowel cancer, says a new study.

For analysing the link, researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in US selected 942 people from Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Of the total, 318 were suffering from colorectal cancer.

Shuji Ogino and colleagues based their findings on the blood samples they collected from the participants before the cancer-diagnosis.

Results showed that people with higher levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, (abbreviated 25(OH)D) in their blood were less likely to develop the disease than the others.

"People with high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream have a lower overall risk of developing colorectal cancer," senior author of the study Dr Ogino from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in US said in a news release.

Vitamin D facilitated this by improving the immunity, the authors said. "Laboratory research suggests that vitamin D boosts immune system function by activating T cells that recognize and attack cancer cells," Ogino added.

"This is the first study to show evidence of the effect of vitamin D on anti-cancer immune function in actual patients, and vindicates basic laboratory discoveries that vitamin D can interact with the immune system to raise the body's defenses against cancer," Ogino explained later.

The study reported in the journal Gut supports a previous research appeared in the Journal of Clinical Oncology last July. At that time, researchers from the University of Edinburg found that having higher levels of blood vitamin D reduced mortality risk in bowel cancer patients.

Vitamin D deficiency affects about one billion people in the world. This problem can be solved to a certain limit either by following a vitamin-D rich diet or by getting proper exposure to sunshine. Cheese, egg yolks, oily fish, button mushrooms and beef liver are some of the natural sources of vitamin D.