Vitamin D slows the progression of cells from premalignant to malignant states, keeping their proliferation in check

November 23, 2012, McGill University

(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers at McGill University have discovered a molecular basis for the potential cancer preventive effects of vitamin D. The team, led by McGill professors John White and David Goltzman, of the Faculty of Medicine's Department of Physiology, discovered that the active form of vitamin D acts by several mechanisms to inhibit both the production and function of the protein cMYC. cMYC drives cell division and is active at elevated levels in more than half of all cancers. Their results are published in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Although vitamin D can be obtained from limited dietary sources and directly from exposure to the sun during the spring and summer months, the combination of poor and sun avoidance has created or insufficiency in large proportions of many populations worldwide. It is known that vitamin D has a wide range of and that correlations exist between insufficient amounts of vitamin D and an increased incidence of a number of cancers. These correlations are particularly strong for cancers of the digestive tract, including , and certain forms of leukemia.

"For years, my lab has been dedicated to studying the of vitamin D in human cancer cells, particularly its role in stopping their proliferation," said Prof. White. "We discovered that vitamin D controls both the rate of production and the degradation of cMYC. More importantly, we found that vitamin D strongly stimulates the production of a natural antagonist of cMYC called MXD1, essentially shutting down cMYC function".

The team also applied vitamin D to the skin of mice and observed a drop in the level of cMYC and found evidence of a decrease in its function. Moreover, other mice, which lacked the specific receptor for vitamin D, were found to have strongly elevated levels of cMYC in a number of tissues including skin and the lining of the colon.

"Taken together, our results show that vitamin D puts the brakes on cMYC function, suggesting that it may slow the progression of cells from premalignant to malignant states and keep their proliferation in check. We hope that our research will encourage people to maintain adequate vitamin D supplementation and will stimulate the development of large, well-controlled cancer chemoprevention trials to test the effects of adequate supplementation," said Dr. White.

Explore further: Low levels of vitamin D are associated with mortality in older adults

Related Stories

Low levels of vitamin D are associated with mortality in older adults

October 2, 2012
Low levels of vitamin D and high levels of parathyroid hormone are associated with increased mortality in African American and Caucasian older adults, according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's ...

Adequate amount of vitamin D critical for good health

September 2, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Vitamin D has been touted in the news recently as the new miracle vitamin, and the importance and benefits of vitamin D supplementation has been discussed at length by media giants from Oprah Winfrey to ...

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.