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The Vitamin D Promise
At current rates, one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Breast cancer will account for the single most common diagnosis among women.
Here’s the good news: we can now prevent nearly 80 percent of all breast cancers. Not early detection or early intervention, but prevention! That is a huge promise. It’s real. It’s vitamin D.
If you have followed the nutritional supplement field, you know I am required by law to say that these statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Further, I am required to note that vitamin D supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. But what I can say is, do the research and decide for yourself. Here are the facts.
A Basic Understanding
It all starts naturally with our own body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D.
The single most important thing every person should know about vitamin D is that the skin naturally produces a form of it, vitamin D3 cholecalciferol (pronounced koh-luh-kal-SIF-uh-rawl)—a fact that has profound implications for the human condition. Technically not a vitamin, vitamin D is actually a hormone that interacts with more than two thousand genes, about 10 percent of the human genome. Extensive research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of at least fourteen varieties of cancer, most notably breast and prostate cancer, as well as several other diseases.
Please understand that vitamin D is something we all need but nearly all of us lack in adequate amounts. And it’s affecting our health.
Since 2005, cancer has become the leading cause of death for people under the age of eighty-five in America. Cancer now accounts for nearly one in every four deaths in the United States each year. It has also become the single leading cause of death worldwide. But scientific studies suggest that about three-fourths of those cancer deaths could be avoided! Statistics show that two thirds of the deaths that occurred in 2010 alone, for example, were related to lifestyle choices, such as tobacco use, obesity, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition and therefore could be prevented.
Enter vitamin D. Science shows that vitamin D hinders inappropriate cell division and metastasis, decreases blood vessel formation around tumors, and regulates proteins that influence tumor growth. It also enhances the immune system’s ability to fight cancer and promotes the efficacy of several chemotherapeutic medicines.
In some of the most impressive research ever, studies conducted at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Nebraska have revealed that supplementing with vitamin D and calcium can reduce the risk of breast cancer by an astonishing 77 percent. This research provides strong new evidence that vitamin D is the single most effective preventive against breast cancer, far outpacing the benefits of any cancer drug known to modern science. Here’s a portion of the Creighton press release:
Most Americans and others are not taking enough vitamin D, a fact that may put them at significant risk for developing cancer, according to a landmark study conducted by Creighton University School of Medicine.
The four-year, randomized study followed 1,179 healthy, postmenopausal women from rural eastern Nebraska. Participants taking calcium, as well as a quantity of vitamin D3 nearly three times the U.S. government’s Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for middle-age adults, showed a dramatic 60 percent or greater reduction in cancer risk than women who did not get the vitamin.
The results of the study, conducted between 2000 and 2005, were reported in the June 8  online edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“The findings are very exciting. They confirm what a number of vitamin D proponents have suspected for some time but that, until now, have not been substantiated through clinical trial,” said principal investigator Joan Lappe, Ph.D., R.N., Creighton professor of medicine and holder of the Criss/Beirne Endowed Chair in the School of Nursing. “Vitamin D is a critical tool in fighting cancer as well as many other diseases.”
Research participants were all 55 years and older and free of known cancers for at least 10 years prior to entering the Creighton study. Subjects were randomly assigned to take daily dosages of 1,400–1,500 mg supplemental calcium; 1,400–1,500 mg supplemental calcium plus 1,100 IU of vitamin D; or placebos. National Institutes of Health funded the study.
Over the course of four years, women in the calcium/vitamin D3 group experienced a 60 percent decrease in their cancer risk than the group taking placebos.
On the premise that some women entered the study with undiagnosed cancers, researchers then eliminated the first-year results and looked at the last three years of the study. When they did that, the results became even more dramatic with the calcium/vitamin D3 group showing a startling 77 percent cancer risk reduction.
In the three-year analysis, there was no statistically significant difference in cancer incidence between participants taking placebos and those taking just calcium supplements.
Through the course of the study, 50 participants developed nonskin cancers, including breast, colon, lung and other cancers.
Lappe said further studies are needed to determine whether the Creighton research results apply to other populations, including men, women of all ages, and different ethnic groups.
Please grasp the implications of this study. Over four years, the group receiving the calcium and vitamin D supplements showed a 60 percent decrease in cancer. When you discard the first year for margin of error, the study reveals an impressive 77 percent reduction in cancer attributable solely to vitamin D supplementation.
These astonishing effects were achieved on what many nutritionists consider to be a low dose of vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight, which creates even more vitamin D in the body, was not tested or considered. Plus the quality of the calcium supplements was likely not as high as it could have been. It was calcium carbonate and not high-grade calcium malate or aspartate.
Beyond this groundbreaking study, additional research demonstrates vitamin D to be an effective cancer preventive. The science shows women who are vitamin D deficient have a 222 percent increased risk for developing breast cancer. Numerous studies have shown an inverse correlation between breast cancer mortality and vitamin D levels—when vitamin D levels are low, cancer deaths are relatively high; when vitamin D levels are high, cancer deaths are relatively low. Today, more than nine hundred scientific studies link vitamin D deficiency with breast cancer.
But the cancer community has been reluctant and slow to respond. Now I am asking you to study the evidence and decide for yourself. As you study, please consider the opinion of the experts, esteemed professionals in vitamin D research:
Cedric Garland, DPH, an adjunct professor for the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California at San Diego, states, “Breast cancer is a disease so directly related to vitamin D deficiency that a woman’s risk of contracting the disease can be ‘virtually eradicated’ by elevating her vitamin D status to what scientists consider to be natural blood levels.”
Dr. Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, author of The Vitamin D Solution, reports that there is an incredible potential opportunity to prevent breast cancer simply by increasing the supply of vitamin D in the body through supplements.
Anthony Norman, PhD, professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at the University of California at Riverside states that the majority of scientists believe that the currently recommended daily intake of vitamin D (between 200 IU and 600 IU) is not enough. “There is a wide consensus among scientists that the relative daily intake of vitamin D should be increased to 2,000 to 4,000 IU for most adults.”
Tracey O’Connor, MD, an oncologist at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, states she is now having all her patients supplement with vitamin D.
Since vitamin D carries no risk unless taken at enormously high amounts, it can only benefit both people who are already healthy as well as those who are sick. Those with debilitating diseases have been found to be the most deficient in vitamin D, indicating a clear correlation between deficiency and the onset of disease. For example, Dr. O’Connor points out that among women with breast cancer, about 80 percent are vitamin D deficient.
An Opportunity Missed
A wide range of vitamin D experts including those at the Cancer Recovery Group believed the opportunity for a breakthrough might be possible when the governments of Canada and the United States commissioned an Institute of Medicine (IOM) review on vitamin D recommendations. After three years of study, the institute’s Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) issued a report on November 30, 2010, saying it had revised its recommendations made thirteen years previously on dietary reference intakes for vitamin D and calcium for Americans and Canadians.
Printed with permission from “Breast Cancer, 50 Essential Things You Can Do” by Greg Anderson. Available at www.amazon.ca
Greg Anderson is the Founder of the Cancer Recovery Foundation International.