According to scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the systematic fortification of foods with vitamin D can prevent more than one hundred thousand cancer-related deaths per year in Europe.

What happens with vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency is not only associated with bone and muscle diseases, but also with an increased susceptibility to infections and numerous other diseases. Meta-analyses of large randomized trials have shown that taking vitamin D supplements reduces death rates from cancer by approximately 13 percent. Fortifying foods with vitamin D can increase vitamin D levels in a similar way as taking vitamin D supplements. Some countries such as the USA, Canada and Finland have been fortifying food with an extra portion of vitamin D for some time. However, most other nations have not yet done so.

In the research on this topic, researchers came to the conclusion that Vitamin D fortification currently prevents around 27.000 cancer deaths per year in all European countries considered. "According to our model calculations, if all the countries we looked at were to fortify foods with adequate amounts of vitamin D, around 130.000 or around nine percent of all cancer deaths in Europe could be prevented. This corresponds to a gain of almost 1,2 million years of life", says Burner.

 "The current data on reducing cancer mortality show the immense potential that an improvement in vitamin D supply could have, but not only for cancer prevention", explains Brenner. "We should make better use of that in the future. "

In addition to the intake of vitamin D through food, an adequate supply can also be ensured through exposure to the sun: The Cancer Information Service of the DKFZ recommends spending about twelve minutes outdoors in the sunshine two to three times a week. Face, hands and parts of arms and legs should be uncovered and without sunscreen for this period of time.

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