Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and exercise for cancer prevention

According to a randomized study published in Review in April 2022, a combination of high-dose vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and resistance training at home significantly reduces the risk of cancer in healthy people aged 70 and over limits in old age.

The risk of cancer increases with age. It is the second leading cause of death in the elderly.

Aside from preventive recommendations such as not smoking and sun protection, public health efforts to prevent cancer are limited, emphasizes Heike Bischoff-Ferrari from the University Hospital Zurich, first author.

Prevention efforts in middle-aged and older adults are now largely limited to screening and vaccination.»

Mechanistic studies have shown that vitamin D inhibits the growth of cancer cells. Likewise, omega-3 fatty acids can inhibit the conversion of normal cells into cancer cells, and exercise has been shown to improve immune function and reduce inflammation, which may help prevent cancer.

However, there are no clinical studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of these three interventions alone or in combination.

To fill this gap, Bischoff-Ferrari and colleagues conducted a three-year randomized study in five European countries (Germany, Austria, France, Portugal and Switzerland) with 2,157 participants.

They tested the effect of a high daily dose of vitamin D3 supplementation (2000 IU per day, while current recommendations are 800 IU), daily supplementation with marine-source omega-3 (1 g per day), and a home resistance training program ( 3 times a week), alone and in combination, on the risk of invasive cancer in 2,157 people aged 70 and over in five European countries (Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria and Portugal).

Participants were randomly assigned to eight groups to test the individual and combined benefits of the interventions. One of the groups received only a placebo.

Participants followed for 3 years received follow-up phone calls every three months and underwent health screenings at study sites at baseline, year one, year two, and year three.

All three treatments had cumulative beneficial effects on the risk of invasive cancers. Each had a small benefit, but when the three treatments were combined, the benefit became statistically significant with an overall risk reduction of 61%. (difference between absolute risk and relative risk)

With the triple association, it was necessary to treat 35 people to prevent one cancer case in the 3 years of follow-up.

However, a period of three years is short to assess the impact on cancer risk, as these often develop over time. Future studies should test the benefit over longer follow-up periods and to improve statistical power with larger numbers of participants.

Please see the links below for more information.

psychomedia with sources: Frontiers Science News, Frontiers in Aging.
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