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"Sweeping cancer edict: take vitamin D daily"

Globe and Mail

Source: Globe and Mail

Published: 08 Jun 2022

Category: Other

Rating: (4½ stars)

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

TORONTO - The Canadian Cancer Society plans to announce Friday that all adults should start taking vitamin D, coinciding with the release of a groundbreaking U.S. study indicating the supplement cuts the risk of cancer by an astounding 60 per cent.
The move is believed to be the first time a major public-health organization has endorsed daily use of the sunshine vitamin as a cancer-prevention therapy for an entire population.
It follows a flurry of research suggesting the low-cost vitamin confers a high degree of protection against a wide variety of cancers. There are also striking study results suggesting that people who develop the disease often have low blood levels of vitamin D....

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how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 9 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of harms of treatment Satisfactory (?)

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

With front page headlines across the country this low cost preventive therapy for many forms of cancer makes for a great newspaper story and could have major public health implications. Vitamin D is pretty risk free and cheap and therefore even though these findings need to be confirmed in larger studies taking it regularly is not likely to have any negative consequences. However, we also need to remember that there are also socially generated causes of cancer such as workplace exposure and toxins in food that we shouldn't neglect. This report of a randomized, placebo-controlled study of Vitamin D is perhaps generating lots of press due to the impressive "60% benefit". While we might quibble about the "60%" relative risk reductions of all cancers for the patients in the Vitamin D/ Calcium group, the article does not otherwise exaggerate the benefits of the treatment. The absolute risk reduction is 4% and that is contained in the charts which accompany the story, (6.9% of placebo patients and 2.9% of Vitamin D/calcium patients). This story contained some very good illustrations and charts showing the absolute benefit of the three arm trial.

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