13 Jun Low vitamin D levels may be associated with scarring lung disease
Reviewing medical information gathered on more than 6,000 adults over a 10-year period, Johns Hopkins researchers have found that lower than normal blood levels of vitamin D were linked to increased risk of early signs of interstitial lung disease (ILD).
Interstitial lung disease is a relatively rare group of disorders characterized by lung scarring and inflammation that may lead to progressive, disabling and irreversible lung damage. An estimated 200,000 cases a year are diagnosed in the United States, most of them caused by environmental toxins such as asbestos or coal dust, but it can be caused by autoimmune disorders, infections, medication side effects or, sometimes, from unknown causes. Once diagnosed with the disease, most people don’t live longer than five years. In a series of studies, the researchers sought to learn about new, and potentially treatable, factors related to early signs of the disease seen by CT scans—imaging abnormalities that may be present long before symptoms develop—which may help guide future preventive strategies.
Results of the most recent data analysis, published in the Journal of Nutrition on June 19, suggest that low vitamin D might be one factor involved in developing interstitial lung disease. Although the researchers caution their results can’t prove a cause and effect, their data support the need 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 interstitial lung disease is established.