Researchers studying the preventive effects of vitamin D on cancer have proposed a new model of cancer development that hinges on a loss of cancer cells’ ability to stick together. The model, dubbed DINOMIT, differs from the older model of cancer development, which suggests genetic mutations as the earliest driving forces behind cancer.
“The first event in cancer is loss of communication among cells due to, among other things, low vitamin D and calcium levels,” said epidemiologist Cedric Garland. “This loss may play a key role in cancer by disrupting the communication between cells that is essential to healthy cell turnover, allowing more aggressive cancer cells to take over.”
Garland suggests that such cellular disruption could account for the earliest stages of many cancers. Previous theories linking vitamin D to certain cancers have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory studies.
Each letter in DINOMIT stands for a different phase of cancer development – disjunction, initiation, natural selection, overgrowth of cells, metastasis, involution, and transition.
While there is not yet definitive scientific proof, Garland suggests that much of the evolutionary process in cancer could be arrested at the outset by maintaining adequate vitamin D levels.
According to another study, getting more of the “sunshine vitamin” may also help you stay mentally fit as you age.
Researchers compared the cognitive performance of more than 3,000 men aged 40 to 79, and found those with low vitamin D levels performed less well on a task designed to test mental agility. The findings are some of the strongest evidence yet of such a link, because of the size of the study and because the researchers adjusted for a number of lifestyle factors believed to affect mental ability.
The researchers do not know exactly how vitamin D and mental agility may be connected, but it could be connected to the vitamin’s role in increasing certain hormonal activity, or it could have a protective effect on brain neurons.
Sources: Science Daily May 24, 2009 | Reuters May 20, 2009