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Vitamin D Deficiency and Thyroid Cancer

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Vitamin D Deficiency and Thyroid Cancer
Salmon is vitamin D-rich. Photo Credit Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with certain malignancies such as breast, prostate and colon cancer. An interest in the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and thyroid cancer sparked due to this. Thyroid cancer affects the cells of your thyroid, which is a small gland at the front of your neck. Thyroid cancer is rare in the United States. However, rates are rising, according to Mayoclinic.com. Consult your doctor first if you are considering supplementing vitamin D.

Thyroid Function

The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system, which is a group of organs that secrete and circulate hormones. Your pituitary gland controls each endocrine organ's hormone levels. When levels are elevated, your pituitary, a pea-size gland at your brain's base, triggers the organ to decrease production. Your thyroid gland produces two hormones. They are called triiodothyronine and thyroxine, also known as T3 and T4, respectively. Thyroid hormones control the speed with which your body uses energy, known as metabolism.

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Cancer Prevalence

Researchers at the department of internal medicine, endocrinology, and metabolism at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha evaluated vitamin D status in patients with thyroid cancer and nodules. A thyroid nodule comprises a growth in the gland. The researchers found that vitamin D deficiency is similarly found in both thyroid disease groups. They also found that thyroid cancer and nodule patients have a higher vitamin D deficiency prevalence than the general population. Their findings are published in the volume 2010 issue of the "International Journal of Endocrinology."

Vitamin D in Cancer Prevention

Throughout the U.S. vitamin D status differs among race and geographic location. The darker your skin color, the higher your risk for vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D appears to lower cancer risk, according to a review of 63 observational studies in the PubMed database. The review is published in the February 2006 issue of the "American Journal of Public Health."

Vitamin D Requirement

There is some evidence that increasing your vitamin D level may decrease your cancer risk. Vitamin D is a substance that is inactive on its own. Your skin makes it as a result of sun exposure and you get it from your diet. Your liver converts it to 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which is the active form. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and also helps modulate your immune system. Adults under 50 should get 5 mg of vitamin D daily, while those over 50 should get twice that amount.

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