Vitamin D and Survival of Breast Cancer and Colon Cancer

June 16, 2014

Vitamin D and Survival with Breast Cancer and Colon Cancer 

 ReferenceEuropean Cancer Journal Feb 2014 

 That’s the summary.  It’s all in the title.  Folks with higher D levels and breast or colon cancer live longer. What was the D level they were seeking?  Pretty easy to achieve.   75 nmoles is 30 ng.  (how we measure it in America).   Most Caucasians achieve that in the summer, in Wisconsin, if they get outside.   African Americans and Asians have more skin pigment and need more sunlight, and have lower levels.  

Milwaukee African Americans have D levels of about 14-16 ng year around (personal data).   That would be expected because pigment protects from sunlight, but also deters Vitamin D production.   I had an indoor job, and had a D level of 7 ng when I first measured mine. The study quoted here took a combination of 5 studies and pooled all their data.  They were looking for studies of those two cancers, breast and colon.  The studies had to include D levels.   They compared those folks with the highest D levels with those folks with the lowest.   Some of the studies had 5 categories of D levels and some only two but combining all made for more powerful statistical effect.  

The reduction for breast cancer was 42%.   Did you get that?   But with colon cancer, it was only 35%.  (Only?!!!)  Those are both huge!   That effect might rival almost any chemotherapy that we currently use.   This was an association, not causal proof. I haven’t done a D article for a while so the question has to be answered.  Why is D so potent?  The answer lies in D’s fundamental role as a hormone throughout all nature.  From plankton to humans, D nudges cells to mature.  A mature cell stops dividing, does its function, and then goes through natural cell death.


Cancer cells don’t do any of those things.  Particularly, not dying.  Cancer cells arrive in all stages of maturity.  If we can nudge it back towards maturity, it slows down its speed of doubling.   A marble-sized cancer contains about a billion cells, which represents 30 doublings.  If we can get a doubling to occur in 6 months, that cancer is going to show up as a marble in 15 years.  If it doubles every two weeks, it will be there in two years.   Which do your prefer? In Wisconsin, we dip below 30 ng every winter.  There is abundant literature that shows our immune system goes into hibernation when we drop below 30 ng.  Appears that level shuts down cancer fighting too.  It may be our immune system happening in its fight against cancer as well as the cancer cells themselves responding.  Either way, you live longer. Now note, this was not a level of 60-80 ng.   Just 30.   Isn’t that interesting? 

 WWW.  What will work for me?  I take D every day.  It’s summer.  I’m older.  My skin makes about 20% of what it used to make because I’m over 60.  I’m still taking 5 K a day because I have a lousy D gene and a dermatologist who gets cross with me because of prior sun exposure..  Most of us need about 3000 IU a day or 20,000 a week to have a level of about 40-50.  That seems to be the sweet spot for prevention.   

 Pop Quiz 

 1.  Having a Vitamin D level of 32 or above might be very helpful with breast and colon cancer?   T or F                        Answer:   Yup! 

 2.  I naturally have a blood level of 45 in the winter living in Wisconsin?  T or F                        Answer:  That would be living in S. Africa in our winter.  Caucasians in Wisconsin get to 45 in the summer, but bottom at about 10-15 in the winter.  African Americans stay at 12-16 year-round. 

 3.   This study is proof of the D concept?  T or F                        Answer:  Decidedly false.  It’s an association that they detected.  D may be low because aggressive cancer lowers it.  It may be a result of the disease.  We don’t have a prospective study that shows taking D will lower your cancer rate. 

 4.  If I have cancer, I will lower my mortality by starting taking D.  T or F                    Answer:  Again, we just don’t really know.  We have data from prostate cancer that the rate of rise of PSA drops by half with D, but no other cancer data to match that.   More likely, taking D for your lifetime will affect the initiation phase of cancer which occurs as much as 20 years before the clinical disease starts.  But I would most assuredly take it!  Remember, it takes a loading dose to get to effective levels quickly.  100,000 IU all at once will raise your level by 14 ng in one day.  Otherwise, it takes a year to reach a new homeostasis.   If you have a new diagnosis of cancer and a low D level (below 32 ng), take 100,000 IU TODAY!  If your level is below 10, take 100,000 IU two days in a row. 

 5.  The best advice for D and cancer is to keep by D level above 32 for my whole life.            Answer:   Bingo! 

 Written by Dr. John Whitcomb at Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic