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"Vitamin D casts cancer prevention in new light"

Globe and Mail

Source: Globe and Mail

Published: 26 Apr 2022

Category: Other

Rating: (2½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

For decades, researchers have puzzled over why rich northern countries have cancer rates many times higher than those in developing countries - and many have laid the blame on dangerous pollutants spewed out by industry.
But research into vitamin D is suggesting both a plausible answer to this medical puzzle and a heretical notion: that cancers and other disorders in rich countries aren't caused mainly by pollutants but by a vitamin deficiency known to be less acute or even non-existent in poor nations.
Those trying to brand contaminants as the key factor behind cancer in the West are "looking for a bogeyman that doesn't exist," argues Reinhold Vieth, professor at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and one of the world's top vitamin D experts. Instead, he says, the critical factor "is more likely a lack of vitamin D."

The original article can be found at:

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 4 of 9
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Applicable
Evidence Not Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of harms of treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This lengthy article does not provide enough basic information on a recent research study to reach any firm conclusions about whether there is a link between Vitamin D and cancer incidence. The main information which is missing is: 1) how many of what forms of cancer occurred in both groups; and 2) what adverse events were experienced in both groups? Furthermore, a four year study is not long enough to track the development of many forms of cancer, as they can take decades to develop. This article merely documents a few points of view on an interesting theory, rather than reporting any significant research data.

One of the interesting aspects of this article is putting the risk of skin cancer (which we are taught to fear because of its link to excessive exposure to sunlight) against the risk of other cancers. As one spokesperson noted: "Fifteen hundred Americans die every year from [skin cancers]. Fifteen hundred Americans die every day from the serious cancers." It is difficult to say if this is a fair comparison, but it does leave the reader with a compelling hypothesis that definitely deserves more study.

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