March 5, 2011

042 Vitamin D and Cancer [14 Dec 2009]

New research shared at a symposium in Toronto last month is adding to the known benefits of adequate Vitamin D. See
After reviewing more than 3,000 published papers on Vitamin D and cancer,  Garland et al projected that raising Vitamin D levels would prevent 58,000 new cases of breast cancer and 49,000 cases of colorectal cancer in the US and Canada each year. It would also prevent 75% of the deaths from these two diseases with “no unreasonable risk”.
And that’s just for two kinds of cancer. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce 16 (so far) different types of cancers including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate and skin cancers. Dr. William Grant, internationally recognized research scientist, calculated that 30% of cancer deaths worldwide could be prevented each year with higher levels of vitamin D.
One paper [Egan] looked at Vitamin D and the skin cancer melanoma. While ultraviolet B (UVB) is essential for the production of vitamin D in the skin, it is also implicated, along with ultraviolet A (UVA), in the formation of skin cancers. More study was recommended on the preventive and treatment roles of vitamin D in melanomas. Fortunately the two are not incompatible – the amount of sunlight needed for vitamin D synthesis is below the sunburn level which is associated with skin cancers.
Another study [Grant & Mohr] looked at ecological studies correlating cancer incidence and survival with UVB exposure in different seasons and in different areas of the USA and other countries. They concluded: “Support for the UVB-vitamin D-cancer theory is now scientifically strong enough to warrant use of vitamin D in cancer prevention, and as a component of treatment.”
So how much vitamin D are they talking about? There are two forms of vitamin D that can be tested: the hormonal form 1,25(OH)2D and the 25(OH)D form. The latter is the most common form in the blood and the one most strongly associated with improved health. Previously a normal range was considered 20 – 56 ng/ml. The new research is indicating that the optimal range is 50 – 65 with the most protection at the higher end of the range. Cancer treatment levels fall in the 65 – 90 range. Levels over 100 are now considered high.
To achieve the optimal range, the current recommendation for supplementation is 35 IU per pound of body weight. At 200 lbs I would need 7,000 IU per day. This value would vary with season, sun exposure and skin color. Blood test monitoring is recommended with supplementation at this level.
Sounds like another good reason to spend the winter golfing in Hawaii.
This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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