Vitamin D- Can it be a Magic Anti-Cancer Pill?

June 23, 2007

Vitamin D- Can it be a Magic Anti-Cancer Pill? 

 Competency # 17 Vitamin D: The Supervitamin                   Reference: Lappe, J.M., et al Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nut 85. 1586-91

 Groundbreaking evidence has just hit the news about Vitamin D and it’s dramatic proven effect on cancer prevention.   We’ve thought for some 100 years that sunlight was good for a variety of illnesses:  TB sanitariums had you sitting in the sun high up in the mountains.   Since then many have hypothesized that Vitamin D reduces cancer risk, but until now (literally this week!) that relationship had not been proven. Remember how grandma always thought it better for you to play outdoors? 

 Creighton University conducted a 4-year study about Vitamin D and bone health.  Cancer risk was not its original intent, making the findings all the more credible because they were truly “blinded.”  No one was expecting the outcome. 3 groups were tested; a placebo control group, a calcium supplement group, and a calcium plus vitamin D3 group. Over 4 years the placebo group showed 18 new cases of cancer, the calcium group 15, and the calcium plus vitamin D3 only 8. Ten fewer people with cancer, pretty significant don’t you think? Just 1100 IU of Vitamin D supplementation, not a mega dose, just 1100 IU reduces your risk by 58%. And not just one type, breast, colon, lung, lymph, leukemia, myeloma, uterus, etc… bottom line: Vitamin D works to reduce cancer by 58%.   

Let me repeat this.  One little tiny pill, every day, can reduce your risk of cancer from all sources by as much as 35%.  With no side effects! How do you get 1100 IU of vitamin D? Sunlight, food, and supplements. Fish lovers are in luck! Salmon and mackerel give you about a third of this amount in just one serving. One tablespoon of cod liver oil has about 400 IU, which is why our current Vitamin pills all have 400 units of Vitamin D. (This is why the Inuit can live in the Arctic and get enough Vitamin D)! Milk fortified with vitamin D (most are nowadays) and fortified cereals also contain about 10% of the current RDA of 400 a day.  BUT THAT’S WAY, WAY, WAY TOO LOW. Sunlight is golden.  Ten minutes in midday sun, with 50% skin exposure, will allow a 20-year-old to make 10,000 units.  A 70-year-old will make 25% of this amount.  During the summer, we are in great shape.  

It’s the 5 months of winter that are killing us, by way of CANCER. Each year, we get NO Vitamin D in Milwaukee for 5 months.  Vitamin D works, in essence, by making every cell mature into the cell our Creator intended it to be.  A mature cell knows when to die as it gets old.  An immature cell keeps dividing.  Cancers are all immature rapidly dividing cells.  It makes sense to hypothesize that Vitamin D, by signaling cells to mature into their mature form, will cut off their tendency to become cancerous.  And this study proves that hypothesis. Beware though, sunscreens block the UV rays that feed your skin for synthesis, so forgo the SPF for 15 minutes and then apply. Supplements will provide your body with a direct source, but make sure you purchase Vitamin D3 as this is the form that has shown cancer prevention benefits. Try combining these three sources to create a personal plan to steer clear of cancer! Let’s not get started on the known fact that your longevity over age 75 depends more on your bone density than your cholesterol and blood pressure.  Bone density, another Vitamin D effect, all for another day. The effects and benefits of Vitamin B seem to be never-ending. Could we have found The Supervitamin? 

 WWW. What Will Work for Me? Since it is summertime now, I’m going to get outside! The grass needs cutting, my hostae need watering, Is anyone up for a trip to the beach? Knowing I’m going to be inside most days, I’m still taking Vitamin D (2000 Units for me).  And being closer to 70 than 20, my skin makes much less than it used to.  I’ll have milk in the morning along with a bowl of cereal (wait isn’t breakfast important anyway?? Hey I get a 2 for 1 on that deal!). If I’m out at a restaurant and I see salmon, I’ll have it. This doesn’t seem too hard, and I’d much rather prevent a cancer all together than try to treat it once it’s snuck up on me!

The column is written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI (262-784-5300)