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Health experts call for standardised Vitamin D screening in UAE

By Wam

Healthcare experts gathered in Abu Dhabi to discuss the impact of Vitamin D deficiency on human health while highlighting the need for the regular screening of Vitamin D levels for people of all age groups, to ensure the early detection of Vitamin D deficiency, as several recent studies have associated the condition with a number of diseases, ranging from bone and muscle weakness to infertility, cancer and heart disease.

During the two-day "Abu Dhabi Annual International Conference on Vitamin D Deficiency and Human Health," which concluded on Friday, experts based in the UAE also called for the standardisation of Vitamin D screening in the country while urging government authorities to expand the scope of their health insurance by adding Vitamin D screening.

They also urged the authorities to adopt the appropriate national guidelines on the detection, prevention and treatment of Vitamin D deficiency.

Several studies presented during the conference connected Vitamin D deficiency with many serious diseases, including psychoneurotic disorders and several types of cancer, as well as most bowel diseases and diabetic retinopathy. The researchers added that the treatment of these diseases will not be effective unless the patient’s Vitamin D deficiency is corrected.

Dr. Muhammad Wasif Alam, Director of the Public Health and Safety Department at the Dubai Health Authority, stated that Vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem, which affects over a billion people worldwide. Vitamin D receptors have been found in almost every type of human cell from the brain to our bones, he added.

"Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a 30 to 50 percent increase in the risk of contracting cancer. Despite all our medical advances, Vitamin D deficiency is still pandemic and endemic. No international health organisation or government body has declared a health emergency, to warn the public about the urgent need to have sufficient Vitamin D levels in the blood," he further added.

Dr. Medhat Elsabbahy Abdou Elsabbahy, Consultant Physician at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi, stated that Vitamin D deficiency can also result in depression. "Major depressive disorder is associated with Vitamin D deficiency, although no significant statistical correlation has been established between serum levels of Vitamin D and the severity of depression," he added.

Dr Kadhim Alabady, Senior Specialist at the Public Health and Safety Department of the Dubai Health Authority, stated that over 75 percent of people with various cancers have low levels of Vitamin D, and the lowest levels are associated with more advanced cancers.

"A deficiency in Vitamin D is associated with tumour progression and metastasis in breast cancer. There is evidence that Vitamin D may reduce the risk of certain types of cancers, particularly colorectal and breast cancers," he added.