Every now and then, scientists have breakthrough in their research that completely changes or utterly confirms treatments in health care. A recent study shows that vitamin D supplements are useless in COPD patients.
Belgium researchers have conducted a study that showed high-dose vitamin D does not reduce Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) exacerbations. However, the research also showed that correcting severe deficiency may help.
For COPD patients a vitamin D insufficiency is a common occurrence. According to Medpagetoday, vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk for extrapulmonary manifestations of the disease. As a result, vitamin D supplements have been proposed in the treatment for both pulmonary and extrapulmonary manifestations.
Now, the Belgium study shows emphysema and chronic bronchitis (the two main forms of COPD) need more than just sunlight. Dr. Wim Janssens with the respiratory division at University Hospital Gasthuisberg in Leuven, told USATODAY: “There are studies showing that patients with vitamin D deficiency are more susceptible to different inflammatory, infections and autoimmune diseases, and most likely COPD”.
But, Janssens emphasizes that “vitamin D restoration to normal levels in COPD patients does not reduce the number of exacerbations, does not reduce the infections and inflammation”. But, as researchers say, high-dose vitamin D may be more valuable earlier in the disease course, “consistent with the idea that such milder stages are also more sensitive to disease modification.”
The problem at hand is not to be taken lightly. As Dr. Diane Gold, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, points out, “COPD ranks in the top 10 causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States”.
Gold explains that so far the only therapy that actually improved the condition of a COPD patient was stopping smoking. But that also had limited effect in reducing COPD associated deaths. At the same time, she “does not definitively refute the benefit of vitamin D supplements for reducing COPD exacerbations”.
Researches involved in the study came to the conclusion that they need to perform larger trials with longer follow up an daily vitamin D dosing to truly understand what’s going on.
The study was published in the January 17th issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine and compiles findings after monitoring 182 patients with moderate to severe COPD.