Foods rich in vitamin D may help protect younger adults against colon cancer, researchers report.
While colon cancer is decreasing overall, cases among younger adults have been on the rise. The trends dovetail with a decline in vitamin D intake from foods such as fish, mushrooms, eggs and milk.
There is growing evidence of a link between vitamin D and risk of colon cancer death, but little research on whether vitamin D intake is associated with the risk of young-onset (before age 50) colon cancer.
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“Because vitamin D deficiency has been steadily increasing over the past few years, we wondered whether this could be contributing to the rising rates” of colon cancer in younger people, said study co-senior author Dr. Kimmie Ng, director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
The study found that vitamin D intake of 300 IU per day or more — roughly equivalent to three 8-ounce glasses of milk — was associated with roughly a 50% lower risk of developing young-onset colon cancer.
Higher vitamin D intake were also associated with a lower risk of potentially precancerous colon polyps detected before age 50.
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