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Vitamin D may cut risk to pancreas

September 18, 2006|From Times wire reports

People who take vitamin D tablets appear to be almost half as likely to get deadly pancreatic cancer as people who do not, researchers have found. Now they're checking to see whether getting the vitamin from food or sunlight also cuts the risk.

The study suggests one easy way to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, the fourth-leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that 32,000 new cases of the cancer will be diagnosed and only 5% of patients will survive more than five years.

The researchers, at Northwestern University in Chicago and at Harvard University, examined data from two large, long-term health surveys involving 46,771 men (ages 40 to 75) and 75,427 women (ages 38 to 65).

They found that people who took the U.S. recommended daily allowance of vitamin D, 400 IU a day, had a 43% lower risk of pancreatic cancer. Those who took doses of less than 150 IU per day had a 22% reduced risk of cancer.

Writing in the September issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, the researchers said taking more than 400 IU a day did not reduce the risk further.

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