Vitamin D is known for its various protective functions, from supporting bone health to boosting immunity, the "sunshine vitamin" is crucial for overall health and wellbeing.

But what is its role in cancer mortality? A new study has found that taking vitamin D regularly reduces the risk of dying from cancer.

Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent worldwide. Studies have shown that 42% of U.S. adults are deficient, while 50% of children below five years and 70% of children between the ages of six and 11 have low vitamin D levels.

The deficiency of vitamin D is more common among cancer patients during treatment than in the general population.

To understand how vitamin D is associated with cancer mortality risk, the researchers from German Cancer Research Center evaluated 14 high-quality studies with a total of almost 105,000 participants. Researchers found that taking vitamin D daily could reduce cancer mortality in the population by 12%.

"Based on current studies, vitamin D3 supplementation probably does not protect against developing cancer, but it could reduce the likelihood of dying from cancer. However, previous studies on cancer mortality have yielded very different results, and we were interested in the reasons for this," Ben Schöttker, an epidemiologist at the German Cancer Research Center, a co-author of the study said.

The research team observed only a 6% reduction in cancer mortality with vitamin D3 supplementation, which was not statistically significant. However, when the vitamin D intake was regular, the study yielded a statistically significant 12% reduction in cancer mortality.

Schöttker said taking daily doses of vitamin D3 makes a significant difference because it produces an active agent, the hormone 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, which presumably inhibits tumor growth.

"We observed this twelve percent reduction in cancer mortality after untargeted vitamin D3 administration to individuals with and without vitamin D deficiency. We can therefore assume that the effect is significantly higher for those people who are actually vitamin D deficient," Schöttker added.

The study further revealed people aged 70 and older benefited most from vitamin D3 therapy when it was taken daily. The effect was most evident when the patients started taking the supplement even before cancer diagnosis.

"This work underlines the great potential of vitamin D3 administration in the prevention of cancer deaths. Regular intake at low doses is associated with almost negligible risk and very low cost," Hermann Brenner, another co-author of the study, said.

Researchers found that taking vitamin D daily could reduce cancer mortality by 12%. Pixabay