Lower Vitamin D levels have long been associated with a higher risk of contracting pancreatic cancer. Recently, according to the ABC News affiliate in Fresno, some researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania think they have discovered why.
It seems that doses of Vitamin D turns off stromal cells that protect and feed pancreatic tumors. When the stromal cells are not working, chemotherapy should be more effective in attacking the pancreatic cancers. Patients in the human trials are receiving large doses of Vitamin D through an IV to put this theory to the test.
The pernicious aspect of pancreatic cancer is that it is not usually caught until its advanced stages because it doesn’t present identifiable symptoms until it is too late. That fact is one reason the five-year survival rate for the disease is relatively low compared to other cancers.
If the human trials prove fruitful, Vitamin D is likely to become part of a mix of treatments for people who have contracted pancreatic cancer. Researchers are working on an oral version of the Vitamin D treatment level medication so that patients could take it at home in between chemo infusion treatments.
Vitamin D has been shown to have benefit for bone health and blood pressure, among several other things. It could be that people who are at risk for getting pancreatic cancer, whether due to family history or genetic predisposition, could become diligent in keeping their Vitamin D levels high the better to stave off the disease.
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