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Deborah James discusses 'scary' bowel cancer symptoms

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Bowel cancer cases have increased among the younger population. A latest study, the first of its kind, found a possible association between a vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk to the deadly disease.

Much has been written about regarding the health benefits of vitamin D;
from helping to prevent osteoporosis to reducing the risk of COVID-19, to now being a possible treatment to help reduce bowel cancer risk.

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, colon cancer, side effects of prevacid therapy or rectal cancer, is any cancer that affects the colon and rectum.

Symptoms of bowel cancer can include changes in bowel habits, diarrhoea or constipation, blood in your stools, abdominal pain, fatigue, or unexplained weight loss.

Health experts are concerned that even though overall incidences of bowel cancer have been on the decline, cases have been increasing in younger adults.

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A new study to ever show an association between vitamin D to help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer has been underdone with interesting results.

Prior to the current study, no research has been examined regarding whether vitamin D intake was associated with the risk of young-onset colorectal cancer.

The study, which was published in the journal Gastroenterology found that vitamin D, mainly from dietary sources, may help protect against precancerous colon polyps to form which creates young onset colorectal cancer.

Scientists from Dana-Ferber Cancer Institutes, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other institutions believe their findings should lead to the recommendation for higher vitamin D intake particularly among the younger population.

The authors of the study – including senior co-authors Dr Kimmie Ng of Dana-Farber, and Dr Edward Giovannucci of the T.H. Chan School – noted that vitamin D intake from food sources such as fish, mushrooms, eggs, and milk has decreased in the past several decades.

There is growing evidence of an association between vitamin D and risk of colorectal cancer mortality.

However, prior to the current study, no research has examined whether total vitamin D intake is associated with the risk of young-onset colorectal cancer.

Interestingly, the researchers didn’t find a significant association between total vitamin D intake and risk of colorectal cancer diagnosed after age 50.

The findings were not able to explain this inconsistency, and the scientists said further research in a larger sample is necessary to determine if the protective effect of vitamin D is actually stronger in young-onset colorectal cancer.

The researchers concluded that higher total vitamin D intake is associated with decreased risks of young-onset colorectal cancer and precursors (polyps).

“Vitamin D has known activity against colorectal cancer in laboratory studies,” said Dr Ng, director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at Dana-Ferber.

He continued: “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 colorectal cancer in young individuals.

“We found that total vitamin D intake of 300 IU per day or more – roughly equivalent to three 8-oz. glasses of milk – was associated with an approximately 50 percent lower risk of developing young-onset colorectal cancer.

“It is critical to understand the risk factors that are associated with young-onset colorectal cancer so that we can make informed recommendations about diet and lifestyle, as well as identify high risk individuals to target for earlier screening.”

Those most at risk of having a vitamin D deficiency include anyone with cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, any weight loss surgery, suffers from obesity or has kidney or liver disease.

Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include:


Bone pain

Muscle weakness, muscle aches, or muscle cramps

Mood changes, like depression.

Your doctor can order a blood test to measure your levels of vitamin D if concerned you may be deficient.



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