Higher vitamin D levels ward off cancer

The Institute of Medicine (IOM), which sets the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) levels, recently raised their recommended daily level of vitamin D to 600 IU. Many experts say that amount is still far too low.

by Dr. Martha M. Grout — 

A new study in the journal Anticancer Research states that it takes far more vitamin D than initially thought to dramatically cut the risk of several major diseases, including breast cancer.

The study’s co-author, Dr. Cedric Garland, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego, said: “We found that daily intakes of vitamin D by adults in the range of 4,000 to 8,000 IU are needed to maintain blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the range needed to reduce, by about half, the risk of several diseases — breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.”

The Institute of Medicine (IOM), which sets the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) levels, recently raised their recommended daily level of vitamin D to 600 IU. Many experts say that amount is still far too low. The RDA number is currently assigned on the basis of preventing diseases of malnutrition. For example, if you get too little vitamin C, you are likely to develop scurvy. Vitamin D was long thought of simply as a defense against the bone deformity called rickets. But in the last decade, research repeatedly has shown that the body uses vitamin D to prevent a wide range of health problems.

Now the debate is about how much we should take, since most of us, even in sunny Arizona, do not get enough exposure to midday sunshine, which the body needs so it can make vitamin D on its own.

This new study involved a survey of several thousand volunteers who took supplements containing 1,000 to 10,000 IU per day. The researchers ran blood tests to measure the level of 25-hydroxy vitamin D, which is the form of almost all vitamin D circulating in the bloodstream.

Garland and his colleagues suggested that 4,000 IU per day is a safe level. “This is comfortably under the 10,000 IU per day that the IOM committee report considers as the lower limit of risk, and the benefits are substantial,” he said.

Vitamin D3 supplements often come in pills or capsules containing 1,000 or 2,000 IU.

Vitamin D3 is also a hormone that the body uses for normal immune-system function and to control cellular growth. The ability of vitamin D to inhibit cancer has been documented in breast cancer, colon cancer, osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and melanoma. These cancer cells contain vitamin D receptors that make them susceptible to the anti-cancer effects of this vitamin/hormone.

If mutations are not corrected, or if a cell has already undergone malignant transformation, activated vitamin D can team up with other proteins to stimulate programmed death of abnormal cells. A study presented at the 2006 American Association for Cancer Research meeting suggested that an increase in vitamin D lowered the risk of developing breast cancer by up to 50 percent.

 

Martha Grout, M.D., M.D.(H), specializes in the reversal of chronic disease. She and Mary Budinger are the authors of Alphabet of Good Health. Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine, www.ArizonaAdvancedMedicine.com, www.AlphabetOfGoodHealth.com or 480-240-2600.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 30, Number 2, April/May 2011.

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