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Researchers have proposed that low vitamin D and calcium may disrupt cell communication, allowing cancer cells to take over from healthy ones.
The new model, called DINOMIT, appears in Annals of Epidemiology and is quite different from the current view that genetic mutations are the early driving force of cancer development.
"The first event in cancer is loss of communication among cells due to, among other things, low vitamin D and calcium levels," said epidemiologist Cedric Garland of the UC San Diego School of Medicine, who led the work. Genetic mutation only plays a role after the communication loss in their model.
Garland suggests that the DINOMIT theory may explain why so many studies have shown a link between high levels of vitamin D in the blood and a lower risk of developing cancer.
"Vitamin D may halt the first stage of the cancer process by re-establishing intercellular junctions in malignancies having an intact vitamin D receptor," he said.
Garland suggests more research should be done, as all the data on vitamin D and cancer are not in. In the meantime, he recommends individuals get their vitamin D level tested at least annually.
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