According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cervical cancer affects roughly 12,700 women in the United States annually and kills nearly 4,300.
There are two major risk factors for cervical cancer:
- Human papilloma virus (HPV)
- Smoking, especially in combination with HPV. Smoking weakens the tight junctions of surface cells and allows HPV to invade. Smoking also lowers vitamin D blood levels.
Sunlight and Cervical Cancer
Several studies show a connection between lack of sunlight exposure and increased cervical cancer risk.
Two studies from China and one from the US came to the same conclusion – they found a reduced risk of cervical cancer incidence and/or mortality rate due to UVB exposure. In Germany, lower cervical cancer rates and higher skin cancer rates were noted in the highest wine growing region compared to the region with the least wine growing.
Vitamin D and Cervical Cancer
In Japan, researchers found a lower rate of invasive cervical cancer and higher vitamin D intake in nonsmokers. This was not true for smokers, however. It is known that smoking reduces the amount of vitamin D in the blood.
Vitamin D has been shown to block the growth of cancer tumors. The liver processes Vitamin D. The body then produces calcitriol, an active form of vitamin D. Calcitriol provides numerous benefits against cancer. This form of vitamin D encourages cells to either adapt to their organ or commit apoptosis (cell suicide). Calcitriol also limits blood supply to the tumor and reduces the spread of cancer. In addition, calcitriol helps keep the surface layer of organs intact. This reduces the likelihood that cancer cells can invade the organ.
While it appears that there is a role for vitamin D in treating cervical cancer, more research is needed. Based on studies of other cancers, women with low levels of vitamin D may be at an increased risk of developing cervical cancer.