Daily exercise plus vitamin D and Omega-3 supplements may reduce the risk of cancer in elderly

May 2022 Prevention Willem van Altena
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A randomised clinical study reports that taking vitamin D, Omega-3 supplements and exercise may reduce the risk of cancer in adults aged 70 years or more. These findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Aging.

Study design

The double-blind, three years, multicentre, DO-HEALTH trial compared the individual and combined benefits of Vitamin D3 (2,000 IU/day), marine omega-3S (1g/day), and a simple home strength exercise (SHEP) program with placebo and control exercises. The study included 2,157 healthy adults aged 70 years or more (mean age- 74.9 years) in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France and Portugal. The majority of the participants (61.7%) were women and the mean BMI was 26.3 kg/m2. Most of the participants were engaged in regular active exercise. Additionally, 24% of the participants were taking vitamin D3 supplements initially.

All the participants were randomly assigned to 8 treatment groups: Vitamin D3 plus omega-3s and exercise (n=264), Vitamin D3 and omega-3s (n=265), Vitamin D3 and exercise (n=275), Omega-3s and exercise (n=275), Vitamin D3 alone (n=272), Omega-3s alone (n=269), Exercise alone (n=267) and Placebo (n=270).


After a median follow-up of 2.99, 119 new cases of invasive cancer were reported. 81 of these cases were verified. The risk of invasive cancer was significantly reduced in patients on all three interventions (4 cases) than those in the placebo group (12 cases) (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 0.39; 95% CI, 0.18-0.85; P =.017). No statistical differences in the risk of invasive cancer were observed between patients on single interventions when compared to patients in the control group. Also, no differences in risk of invasive cancer were seen in patients who received two interventions except for those who received omega-3s plus exercise (15 vs 28 control cases of cancer, aHR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.28-1.00; P =.051)


The results of the randomized clinical trial demonstrated the clinical benefits of daily high-dose vitamin D3 plus omega-3s, combined with SHEP in reducing risk of cancer.


Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Willett WC, Manson JE, et al. Combined vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and a simple home exercise program may reduce cancer risk among active adults aged 70 and older: A randomized clinical trial. Front Aging. Published online April 25, 2022. doi:10.3389/fragi.2022.852643