Vitamin D Deficency May Cause Lung Cancer

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, United States (US) said low levels of Vitamin D were associated with an increased risk of a disease that causes lung inflammation and scarring.

To this end, an Associate Director of Preventive Cardiology at the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, Dr. Erin Michos said that adequate levels of Vitamin D may be important for lung health.

According to the findings of a new study published in the ‘Journal of Nutrition’, lower than normal blood levels of vitamin D were associated with an increased risk of early signs of interstitial lung disease (ILD).

Michos, who is study leader said: “We might now consider adding vitamin D deficiency to the list of factors involved in disease processes, along with the known ILD risk factors such as environmental toxins and smoking.”

Interstitial lung disease may be caused by long-term exposure to hazardous materials, such as asbestos or coal dust, or it can be caused by an auto-immune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. Once lung scarring occurs, it’s generally irreversible.

Symptoms include a dry cough. Shortness of breath can occur either at rest or after exertion and treatment depends on the underlying cause but often includes steroids.

 The researchers reviewed medical data collected on more than 6,000 adults over 10 years.

Michos said: “We knew that the activated Vitamin D hormone has anti-inflammatory properties and helps regulate the immune system, which goes awry in ILD.”
According to him, there was also evidence in the literature that vitamin D plays a role in obstructive lung diseases such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and we now found that the association exists with this scarring form of lung disease, too.”

COPD is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. This disease is characterised by increasing breathlessness.