Exercising, vitamin D and Omega-3 supplements may reduce cancer risk by 61%: Study
According to a new study, a combination of of vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, and strength training helps reduce the risk of developing invasive cancers by 61 percent.
The findings of the research were published in the journal 'Frontiers in Aging' by Dr Heike Bischoff-Ferrari and her colleagues at the University Hospital Zurich.
This was the first study to test the combined benefit of three affordable public health interventions for the prevention of invasive cancers. Following future studies, the results may impact the future of cancer prevention in older adults.
Cancer is considered a major age-related disease in Europe and the US. It is the second leading cause of mortality in older adults and the chances of getting most cancers increases with age.
Apart from preventative recommendations such as not smoking and sun protection, public health efforts that focus on cancer prevention are limited, according to Dr Heike Bischoff-Ferrari. "Preventive efforts in middle-aged and older adults today are largely limited to screening and vaccination efforts."
Mechanistic studies have shown that vitamin D inhibits the growth of cancer cells. Similarly, omega-3 may inhibit the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells, and exercise has been shown to improve immune function and decrease inflammation, which may help in the prevention of cancer.
However, there was a lack of robust clinical studies proving the effectiveness of these three simple interventions, alone or combined.
Bischoff-Ferrari and her colleagues wanted to fill these knowledge gaps by testing the effect of daily high-dose vitamin D3 (one form of vitamin D supplements), daily supplemental omega-3s, and a simple home exercise program, alone and in combination, on the risk of invasive cancer among adults aged 70 or older.
To do so, the researchers conducted the DO-HEALTH trial: a three-year trial in five European countries (Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, and Portugal) with 2,157 participants.
"In DO-HEALTH, our aim was to test promising combined interventions for cancer prevention taking advantage of potentially small additive benefits from several public health strategies," explained Bischoff-Ferrari.
"In fact, novel cancer treatments aim to block multiple pathways for cancer development by combining several agents. We translated this concept into cancer prevention."
The results show that all three treatments (vitamin D3, omega-3s, and SHEP) had cumulative benefits on the risk of invasive cancers.
Each of the treatments had a small individual benefit but when all three treatments were combined, the benefits became statistically significant, and the researchers saw an overall reduction in cancer risk by 61%.