The past year has produced stunning research findings concerning vitamin D’s potential role in preventing and perhaps even treating cancer. Scientists are examining the use of vitamin D to reduce the risk of no fewer than 17 different types of cancer, ranging from colon, breast, and prostate cancers to ovarian, esophageal, renal, and bladder cancers. Moreover, researchers believe vitamin D may even improve treatment outcomes in people already diagnosed with cancer. A recent review article estimated that 50,000-70,000 Americans die prematurely from cancer each year due to insufficient intake of vitamin D.
Breast cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood are twice as likely to survive the disease as women with low levels of this nutrient, report University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers in the March issue of Anticancer Research.
In previous studies, Cedric F. Garland, DrPH, professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, showed that low vitamin D levels were linked to a high risk of premenopausal breast cancer. That finding, he said, prompted him to question the relationship between 25-hydroxyvitamin D a metabolite produced by the body from the ingestion of vitamin D and breast cancer survival rates.
Garland and colleagues performed a statistical analysis of five studies of 25-hydroxyvitamin D obtained at the time of patient diagnosis and their follow-up for an average of nine years. Combined, the studies included 4,443 breast cancer patients.
“Vitamin D metabolites increase communication between cells …
Once considered little more than a compound that promotes healthy bones, vitamin D is now recognized as an important weapon in the fight against cancer. Its many other health-promoting effects include protecting muscle strength and modulating autoimmune disease. Optimizing vitamin D status through supplementation and prudent sun exposure should be a cornerstone of every health maintenance program.
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