LONDON, Aug. 23 (UPI) — Vitamin D deficiency is known to increase susceptibility to a wide range of diseases, and British researchers say a study dramatically highlights that fact.
Scientists mapping the points on the human genome at which vitamin D interacts with human DNA have found over 200 genes that the vitamin directly influences, a release by the Wellcome Trust said Monday.
One billion people worldwide are estimated to have insufficient vitamin D, largely due to insufficient exposure to the sun and, in some cases, poor diet.
There is a growing body of evidence that vitamin D deficiency, in addition to being a being a well-known risk factor for rickets, increases one’s susceptibility to autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes, as well as certain cancers and even dementia, the release said.
Researchers found 2,776 binding sites for the vitamin D receptor along the length of the human genome, concentrated near a number of genes associated with susceptibility to MS, Crohn’s disease, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and to cancers such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia and colorectal cancer.
“Our study shows quite dramatically the wide-ranging influence that vitamin D exerts over our health,” Dr. Andreas Heger from Oxford University, one of the lead authors of the study, said.
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