— Christine M. Kukka, Project Manager, HBV Advocate
Recent studies show a diet rich in vitamin D can improve liver health in patients with hepatitis B. A new study from Emory University in Atlanta finds that people with high vitamin D levels have lower rates of liver cancer.
The researchers examined vitamin D levels and liver cancer risk among 520,000 participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition between 1992 and 2010.
They compared vitamin D levels in 138 patients diagnosed with liver cancer against other participants who had similar ages and gender.
They found higher vitamin D levels were associated with a 49% reduction in liver cancer risk.
The higher vitamin D levels appeared to confer protection against liver cancer even if patients had pre-existing liver damage or a hepatitis B or C infection, according to the report published in the February issue of Hepatology.
“Given the rising incidence of this cancer in low-risk developed countries and the strong public health interest surrounding the potentially cancer-protective roles of vitamin D, additional studies in different populations are required,” they wrote.
The body makes vitamin D when skin is exposed directly to the sun. Skin exposed to sunshine indoors through a window will not produce vitamin D. Very few foods naturally have vitamin D, fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in American diets. Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish and milk. Vitamin D is added to many breakfast cereals, some orange juice brands and some yogurts.