A new study was published in frontiers in old age found that a combination of high-dose vitamin D and omega-3s and a simple home strength exercise program (SHEP) showed a cumulative 61% reduction in cancer risk in healthy adults age 70 or older. It is the first study to test the combined benefit of three affordable public health interventions for preventing invasive cancers. After prospective studies, the findings may influence the future of cancer prevention in the elderly.
Cancer is one of the leading age-related diseases in Europe and the United States. It is the second leading cause of death in the elderly and the chances of developing cancers increase with age.
Aside from preventive recommendations such as not smoking and sun protection, public health efforts focused on cancer prevention are limited, according to Dr. Heike Bischoff Ferrari of the University Hospital Zurich: “Preventive efforts in middle-aged adults and older adults today are largely limited on screening and vaccination efforts.
Vitamin D, Omega 3 and exercise
Mechanistic studies have shown that vitamin D inhibits the growth of cancer cells. Likewise, omega-3s may prevent the transformation of normal cells into cancerous cells, and exercise has been shown to improve immune function and reduce inflammation, which may help prevent cancer.
However, robust clinical studies demonstrating the efficacy of these three simple interventions, alone or in combination, have been lacking.
Bischoff-Ferrari and colleagues wanted to fill in these knowledge gaps by testing the effect of daily high doses of vitamin D3 (a form of vitamin D supplement), daily supplemental omega-3s, and a simple home exercise program, alone or in combination, on invasive cancer risk among adults aged They are 70 years of age or older.
A combination of simple treatments
To do this, the researchers conducted the DO-HEALTH: a three-year trial in five European countries (Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria and Portugal) with 2,157 participants.
“At DO-HEALTH, our goal was to test the most promising combined interventions for cancer prevention while taking advantage of the potential small added benefits from many public health strategies,” explained Bischoff-Ferrari. “In fact, new cancer treatments aim to prevent multiple pathways of cancer development by combining several factors. We have translated this concept into cancer prevention.”
Participants were randomly divided into eight different groups to test the individual and pooled benefit of the interventions: group 1 received 2,000 IU daily of vitamin D3 (equivalent to >200% of the current recommendations for older adults, which is 800 IU per day), 1 grams per day of omega-3, three times per week SHEP; group II of vitamin D3 and omega-3; Group III Vitamin D3 and SHEP; Group IV Omega-3 and SHEP; Fifth group Vitamin D3 alone; Group VI omega-3 alone; Group VII SHEP alone; The last group got a placebo.
Participants received medical examination phone calls every three months and performed standardized health and work examinations at trial centers at baseline, Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3.
Prevent invasive cancer
The results show that all three treatments (vitamin D3, omega-3, and SHEP) have cumulative benefits on the risk of invasive cancers.
Each of the treatments had a small individual benefit, but when the three treatments were combined, the benefits became statistically significant, and the researchers saw an overall reduction in cancer risk of 61%.
“This is the first randomized controlled trial to show that a daily combination of supplemental marine vitamin D3 and omega-3 and a simple home exercise program may be effective in preventing invasive cancer among generally healthy, active adults aged 70 and older,” Bischoff-Ferrari commented.
The findings may influence the future of invasive cancer prevention in the elderly. “Our results, although based on multiple comparisons and require replication, may be useful in reducing the cancer burden,” Bischoff-Ferrari concluded.
“Future studies should verify the benefit of combined treatments in preventing cancer, and should extend to the longer follow-up beyond the three-year period evaluated in this trial.”
Targeted efforts do not alter outcomes in the health of older adults
Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari et al Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and a simple home exercise program may reduce cancer risk among active adults 70 years of age or older: a randomized clinical trial, frontiers in old age (2022). DOI: 10.3389 / fragi.2022.852643
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