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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Report links low vitamin D levels to lung disease

Grim reading for UAE where 90 per cent of the population are vitamin D deficient

Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to a high risk of lung disease in a medical report from John Hopkins University in the United States.

Reviewing medical information gathered on more than 6,000 adults over a 10-year period, Johns Hopkins researchers found that lower than normal blood levels of vitamin D were linked to an increased risk of early signs of interstitial lung disease (ILD).

ILD is a rare group of disorders that is characterised by lung scarring and inflammation. This can lead to disabling and irreversible lung damage.

The most recent data analysis, published in the Journal of Nutrition on June 19, suggests that low vitamin D may be one factor involved in developing the disease.

The report will make for alarming reading in the Middle East where, despite the high levels of sunlight, 90 per cent of the population are deficient in vitamin D.

That is according to Dubai Health Authority who released the statistic in December last year.

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Read more:

Why we don't get enough vitamin D in the UAE

Call for greater awareness on vitamin D deficiency

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Among the reasons for the high levels of vitamin D deficiency in the region are lifestyle choices, with many people choosing to use cars to travel as opposed to walking in daylight.

Avoidance of the high temperatures in the region is another reason why many are suffering from vitamin D deficiency.

The number women who suffer from bone disease, of which a vitamin D deficiency is a key factor, and the children born to them is also abnormally high in the region.

A large part of this is believed to be down to skin coverage, preventing the body from absorbing sunlight, due to traditional attire.

Although the researchers, from John Hopkins, caution their results can’t prove an exact cause and effect, their report calls for future studies to investigate whether treatment of vitamin D deficiency, such as with supplements or sunlight exposure, could potentially prevent or slow the progression of the disorder in those at risk. Currently, there is no proven treatment or cure once ILD is established.

“We knew that the vitamin D hormone has anti-inflammatory properties and helps regulate the immune system, which goes awry in ILD,” said Dr Erin Michos, associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and associate director of preventive cardiology at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Centre for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease.

"There was also evidence in the literature that vitamin D plays a role in obstructive lung diseases such as asthma and COPD, and we now found that the association exists with this scarring form of lung disease too.”

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