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Published on 24 August 2010

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Vitamin D influences cancer genes


A study has revealed that vitamin D can influence a wide range of genes including some associated with cancer and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Scientists analysed how much of an impact vitamin D can have against various diseases.

The research looked at 2,776 areas where there was interaction between the vitamin and elements of DNA.

This included DNA that helps to make up genes.

Scientists discovered that vitamin D was found grouped near to genes linked with disorders including lupus, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis.

They were also found close to genes for cancers such as chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and bowel cancer.

The researchers showed that vitamin D had a significant impact on the activity of 229 specific genes, including ones previously associated with MS, Crohn’s disease and type 1 diabetes – another autoimmune condition.

“Our study shows quite dramatically the wide-ranging influence that vitamin D exerts over our health,” said Dr Andreas Heger, from the Medical Research Council Functional Genomics Unit at Oxford University.

Working in the laboratory, the scientists isolated fragments of DNA in cells to study the effects of exposure to calcitriol, the “active” form of vitamin D.

Their findings are published in the journal Genome Research.

Copyright Press Association 2010

MRC Functional Genomics Unit

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