Vitamin D being studied
as anti-cancer drug
August 22, 2000
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Early studies show vitamin D is
successful in reducing the risk of cancer, researchers at Johns Hopkins
Besides keeping bones strong, vitamin D is also very
effective at controlling cell growth, the researchers said at a meeting
of the American Chemical Society.
Because the vitamin is toxic in high doses, taking
calcium from the bone and moving it to the blood and urine, scientists had
to alter the vitamin for the trials. The natural vitamin would not be safe
at the dosage researchers believe would be necessary for cancer
The Hopkins researchers designed four different
versions of vitamin D in the laboratory and tested them on two groups of
mice: one painted with a tumor-inducing chemical, and one that was not.
After 20 weeks, the most promising version of the vitamin had reduced the
incidence of tumors by 28 percent and the number of tumors by 63 percent.
Dr. Gary Posner, one of the Hopkins researchers, said
they are not sure why the altered vitamin performs differently from the
natural version, retaining the benefits and none of the drawbacks of
natural vitamin D.
The next step, the scientists said, is to study the
compound in bigger animals and with other cancers. It will be several
steps yet before the compound can be tested in humans.