Researchers studying the preventive effects of vitamin D on cancer have proposed a new model of cancer development that hinges on a loss of cancer cells' ability to stick together. The model, dubbed DINOMIT, differs from the older model of cancer development, which suggests genetic mutations as the earliest driving forces behind cancer.
"The first event in cancer is loss of communication among cells due to, among other things, low vitamin D and calcium levels," said epidemiologist Cedric Garland. "This loss may play a key role in cancer by disrupting the communication between cells that is essential to healthy cell turnover, allowing more aggressive cancer cells to take over."
Garland suggests that such cellular disruption could account for the earliest stages of many cancers. Previous theories linking vitamin D to certain cancers have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory studies.
Each letter in DINOMIT stands for a different phase of cancer development – disjunction, initiation, natural selection, overgrowth of cells, metastasis, involution, and transition.
While there is not yet definitive scientific proof, Garland suggests that much of the evolutionary process in cancer could be arrested at the outset by maintaining adequate vitamin D levels.
According to another study, getting more of the "sunshine vitamin" may also help you stay mentally fit as you age.
Researchers compared the cognitive performance of more than 3,000 men aged 40 to 79, and found those with low vitamin D levels performed less well on a task designed to test mental agility. The findings are some of the strongest evidence yet of such a link, because of the size of the study and because the researchers adjusted for a number of lifestyle factors believed to affect mental ability.
The researchers do not know exactly how vitamin D and mental agility may be connected, but it could be connected to the vitamin's role in increasing certain hormonal activity, or it could have a protective effect on brain neurons.
|Vitamin D Dose Recommendations
||35 units per pound per day
|Age 5 - 10
|Age 18 - 30
There is no way to know if the above recommendations are correct. The ONLY way to know is to test your blood. You might need 4-5 times the amount recommended above. Ideally your blood level of 25 OH D should be 60ng/ml.
If I told you there was something you could do to cut your risk of cancer by 60 percent -- and it wouldn't cost you a dime -- would you do it?
Well there is, and it's called sun exposure.
This latest study, published in the Annals of Epidemiology, is yet another piece in what's turning into a mountain of evidence showing vitamin D's effectiveness for a wide variety of cancers.
The idea of getting sun exposure in order to stay healthy is such a simple strategy it's easily dismissed in this age where so many folks believe health comes in a pill and costs a fortune. But it's true, and with the mounting evidence, not even conventional medicine can ignore it any longer.
In fact, some of the top vitamin D experts in the world believe optimizing your vitamin D levels by getting proper sun exposure is the next largest variable after smoking that can influence whether or not you'll get cancer.
I am a bit surprised at that comment as from my understanding vitamin D has a far more profound impact on cancer. Vitamin D seems to universally lower risk for nearly all cancers where smoking is primarily restricted to lung cancer. And if you took vitamin D as a smoker you would still radically reduce your cancer risk.
Vitamin D – One POWERFUL Cancer Prevention Strategy!
The seemingly limitless benefits of vitamin D are easier to fathom when you understand that it is actually a steroid hormone that influences your entire body. Receptors that respond to vitamin D have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your bones to your brain.
Your organs can convert the vitamin D in your bloodstream into calcitriol, which is the hormonal or activated version of vitamin D. Your organs then use it to repair damage, including that from cancer cells.
Your body is clearly designed to spend time in the sun.
But modern living has reduced most people's sun exposure to the point that the vast majority of the earth's population is now vitamin D deficient. According to one landmark study, some 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancers could be prevented each year if vitamin D levels among populations worldwide were increased. And that's just counting the death toll for two types of cancer.
Earlier studies have shown that optimizing your vitamin D levels could help you to prevent at least 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers. But now we're starting to see more evidence that the type of cancer in question may not be all that important, because vitamin D appears to play a key role in the development of ALL types of cancer!
One recent large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled study on vitamin D and cancer showed that vitamin D can cut overall cancer risk by as much as 60 percent! This was such groundbreaking news, the Canadian Cancer Society has actually begun endorsing the vitamin as a cancer-prevention therapy.
Similar results were shown in another study investigating vitamin D's impact on breast cancer. It discovered that light-skinned women who had high amounts of long-term sun exposure had half the risk of developing advanced breast cancer (cancer that spreads beyond your breast) as women with lower amounts of regular sun exposure.
But the benefits of vitamin D go far beyond cancer.
In fact, optimizing your vitamin D levels may lower your risk of dying from ANY cause, according to a recent European study.
Where You Live Impacts Your Cancer Risk
The connection between sun exposure and cancer is further solidified by studies showing that the farther away from the equator you live, the higher your risk of dying from cancer becomes.
In other words, those living in higher latitudes have higher cancer rates than those living in lower latitudes. And the difference is quite significant.
For example, people living in Iceland have cancer rates of 90 out of 100,000 per year. Those in the tropics, meanwhile, have rates of 25 per 100,000!
Additionally, the majority of cancer deaths in the U.S. are from vitamin-D-sensitive cancers.
How Does Vitamin D Prevent Cancer?
For a quick intro, watch this short 5-minute presentation by Dr. William Grant, who is an internationally recognized research scientist and vitamin D expert. (He is also the director of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center, an entity devoted to research, education, and advocacy relating to the prevention of chronic disease through changes in diet and lifestyle.)
Dr. Grant recently uncovered exciting potential for the use of vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of a number of high-incidence cancers found in Western populations.
According to his estimates, about 30 percent of cancer deaths -- which amounts to 2 million worldwide and 200,000 in the United States -- could be prevented each year with higher levels of vitamin D.
His conclusions are echoed by lead researcher Cedric Garland, DrPH, in the Science Daily article above, who stated,
"The first event in cancer is loss of communication among cells due to, among other things, low vitamin D and calcium levels.
In this new model, we propose that this loss may play a key role in cancer by disrupting the communication between cells that is essential to healthy cell turnover, allowing more aggressive cancer cells to take over."
He too suggests that much of the cancer process could be arrested at the outset by maintaining adequate vitamin D levels.
"Vitamin D may halt the first stage of the cancer process by re-establishing intercellular junctions in malignancies having an intact vitamin D receptor," Dr. Garland said.
Living Not Only Longer and Healthier, but Also Saner, with Vitamin D
As I stated earlier, reduced cancer risk is not the only benefit of having optimal vitamin D levels. Getting more of the "sunshine vitamin" may also help you keep your smarts as you age.
Another new study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry just last month, bolsters evidence that vitamin D helps older people stay mentally fit.
Their findings are some of the strongest evidence yet of the link between mental agility and vitamin D levels, due to the size of the study and because the researchers adjusted for a number of lifestyle factors believed to affect mental ability.
They still don't know exactly how vitamin D and mental agility may be connected, but suggest it could be connected to vitamin D's role in increasing certain hormonal activity, or it could have a protective effect on brain neurons.
Either way, other studies have also explored vitamin D's impact on brain function and found that it has a protective and normalizing effect, even on more serious brain disorders such as schizophrenia.
How do You Know You Have Sufficient Vitamin D?
Most people only get 250-300 units of vitamin D a day from their diet, so another source -- ideally the sun -- is essential.
But how much is enough?
In the article above, lead researcher Dr. Garland states that "vitamin D levels can be increased by modest supplementation with vitamin D3 in the range of 2000 IU/day."
This, however, is likely NOT enough for most people, especially for active cancer prevention in high-risk individuals.
But rather than focus on how much vitamin D you need, it's more important to get your levels checked regularly by a proficient lab, and supplement accordingly until you're within a healthy range. Or, for active cancer prevention, until you're in the clinically effective range.
For a more in-depth overview of optimal vitamin D ranges and testing, please see my previous article, which contains the latest information on this topic.
It's important to realize however, that your ideal source is from appropriate sunshine exposure. Your body can safely create as much as 20,000 units a day this way, without any risk of overdosing – a factor you'll have to contend with if you're taking oral supplements.
How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health
Additionally, a robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.
Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. It is showing how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.
In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This was an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.
To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)
As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."