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A ray of sunshine for bowel cancer patients?

‘Vitamin D could have real long-term survival prospects’ says research

July 2014: By Nicky Whiting

Bowel cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood, could be more likely to survive the disease says a recent study.


This is the first study that has attempted to correlate the long-term survival prospects with total blood levels of vitamin D.

Bowel cancer, also known as colon cancer, is the second most common cancer in Europe with around 447,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012.

Patients with the highest levels of vitamin D have half the risk of dying when compared to those with the lowest levels, findings showed. Often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D is made in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight.

Very few foods in nature actually contain vitamin D. Those that do, include the flesh of fatty fish (e.g. salmon, tuna) as well as fish liver oils.

For the study, researchers at the Univesity of Edinburgh tested blood samples from almost 1600 patients after surgery for bowel cancer.

The greatest benefit of vitamin D was seen in those patients with stage 2 disease, at which the tumour may be quite large but the cancer has not yet spread. Three quarters of the patients with the highest vitamin D levels were still alive at the end of five years.

Professor Malcolm Dunlop from the University of Edinburgh added ‘Our findings are promising but it is important to note that is an observational study. We need carefully designed random clinical trials before we can confirm whether taking vitamin D supplements offers any survival benefit for bowel cancer patients’.

Other observational studies have also suggested a link between low levels of vitamin D and greater risks of many other acute and chronic diseases.

BowelHealth UK

At BowelHealth UK we know that early detection of bowel cancer saves lives.

Bowel cancer (also known as colon cancer, rectal cancer or colorectal cancer) is a very serious disease being the UK’s second biggest killer, but it shouldn’t be. It can be treated and patients can expect a good outcome if caught early enough. If bowel cancer is detected at its earliest stage, there is a greater than 90% chance of curing it.

BowelHealth UK offers BowelCheck, a bowel cancer early detection service. BowelCheck is available to both private individuals with or without insurance and businesses wanting to offer bowel cancer screening to employees.

BowelCheck consists of:

  • Comprehensive factual information about bowel cancer.

  • An on-line sign up with questions about lifestyle and family history

  • A new, advanced test which is carried out in the comfort and privacy of the home

Why choose BowelHealth UK?

BowelHealth UK which is headed up by Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, Mr Justin Davies, aims to provide you with clear, accurate and understandable information regarding bowel cancer. Our service offers you the following benefits:

  • Early detection of bowel cancer, possibly before any symptoms arise

  • An advanced Faecal occult blood test (FOB) using the latest immunohistochemistry technology (not yet available on the NHS)

  • A hygienic, easy to use test with fast results

  • The provision of services without a GP referral necessary

  • Guidance on follow-up treatment or referral to leading local consultants or your GP

  • Occupational health bowel cancer screening programmes to enable employers to implement early detection schemes for their employees

  • Privacy and confidentiality is ensured throughout the process and BowelHealth UK is regulated by the Care Quality Commission

Above all else, our early detection bowel cancer screening service provides peace of mind and allows you to ensure any problems are picked up early and when there are opportunities for treatment.

Affordable bowel cancer screening
For men and women aged 45+

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