risk management

Nutritional Supplements, Exercise Reduced Risk of Invasive Cancer in Older Adults

Combining the use of vitamin D3 and omega-3 fatty acids supplements, and weight-bearing exercise may reduce the risk of invasive cancer by nearly 40% in adults aged 70 years or older. Each intervention on its own reduced risk of invasive cancer by about 25% to 30%.

The DO-HEALTH trial was conducted in 5 European countries from December 2012 to December 2017. Using a 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design, researchers assessed the effects of each intervention separately and in various combinations.

The primary outcome of the study was the time elapsed until any verified invasive cancer developed in the intention-to-treat population.

The trial included 2157 participants. The group’s mean age was 75 years; 62% were women; 41% had insufficient levels of vitamin D (<20 ng/mL) in serum; and 85% were at least moderately physically active.

After 3 years, 81 cases of invasive cancer were diagnosed and verified. Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for invasive cancer with their corresponding 95% CIs by single intervention were as follows: for vitamin D3, 2000 IU/day, 0.76 (0.49-1.18); for omega-3s, 1 g/day, 0.70 (0.44-1.09); and for the simple, weight-bearing, home exercise program (SHEP), 0.74 (0.48-1.15). However, for all 3 treatments combined, the adjusted HR for invasive cancer was 0.39 (0.18-0.85).

“Supplementation…combined with SHEP showed cumulative reduction in the cancer risk in generally healthy and active and largely vitamin D-replete adults ≥70 years [old], “researchers concluded.


—Ellen Kurek



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. 2022; 3:852643. doi:10.3389/fragi/2022/852643