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Is Vitamin D the New Solution for Colon Cancer?

colon cancer, colon, cancer, vitamin D, D3, sunshine, sunlightVitamin D can affect a colon cancer cell by adjusting everything from its gene expression to its cytoskeleton. Recent research shows that one pathway governs the vitamin's diverse effects, a result which helps to clarify the actions of a molecule that is undergoing clinical trials as a cancer therapy.

Vitamin D stymies colon cancer cells in two ways -- it switches on certain genes, and it induces effects on the cytoskeleton. The net result is to curb cell division and cause colon cancer cells to differentiate into epithelial cells that settle down instead of spreading.

The recent study is the first to show that vitamin D's genomic and nongenomic effects use one simultaneous pathway and integrate to regulate cell physiology.

Vitamin D Dose Recommendations
Age Dosage
Below 5 35 units per pound per day
Age 5 - 10 2500 units
Age 18 - 30 5000 units
Pregnant Women 5000 units
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.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Here’s yet more validation for the assertion that vitamin D has a MAJOR impact on cancer rates around the world. In fact, there are another 800 scientific articles showing the effects of vitamin D on cancer.

Unfortunately, almost everyone, including people living in subtropical environments, are deficient in this essential vitamin.  

Decades of sun avoidance, excessive use of sunscreen, and air pollution shielding the sun’s ultraviolet rays are now taking their toll on the human population everywhere. 

In one of the largest vitamin D studies ever conducted, it was determined that if vitamin D3 levels among populations worldwide were increased, 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancers could be prevented each year; nearly 150,000 cases of cancer in the United States alone.

But even beyond cancer, researchers have pointed out that increasing levels of vitamin D3 could prevent numerous diseases that claim nearly 1 million lives throughout the world each year!

How is this possible? 

It’s possible because vitamin D, aka “the sunshine vitamin,” is different from other vitamins. It’s a powerful hormone precursor that influences your entire body -- receptors that respond to the vitamin have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones. And, so far, some 3,000 of your 30,000 genes have been found to be directly influenced by vitamin D. 

It truly gives a whole new meaning to the word “essential” vitamin!

How Vitamin D Affects Cancer 

It’s already been established that optimizing your vitamin D levels could help you to prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers.

The mechanisms by which vitamin D reduces your cancer risk are fairly well understood. They include:

  • enhancing calcium absorption (in the case of colorectal cancer)
  • inducing cell differentiation
  • increasing cancer cell apoptosis or death
  • reducing metastasis and proliferation
  • reducing angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels, which promotes tumor growth)
  • downregulating parathyroid hormone (PTH)
  • up- or downregulating gene expression

Also worth mentioning here is that in another recent study, researchers discovered that vitamin D induces a specific gene to increase expression of a key enzyme that protects healthy prostate cells from oxidative damage by free radicals that can lead to prostate cancer.

According to Yi-Fen Lee, lead researcher of the study published in the June 15, 2008 issue of the International Journal of Cancer:

“Many epidemiological studies have suggested the beneficial properties of vitamin D. Our findings reflect what we see in those studies and demonstrate that vitamin D not only can be used as a therapy for prostate cancer, it can prevent prostate cancer from happening." 

Optimal vitamin D levels are known to positively influence the following health conditions:

The health benefits of optimal vitamin D levels are absolutely extraordinary, and no one is making a penny from recommending higher vitamin D status, which is one of the primary reasons why it’s not being more widely promoted. 

But, What are the “Optimal” Vitamin D Levels?

In late winter, the average American’s 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels range from 15 to 18 ng/ml. This is considered a SERIOUS deficiency state!

Based on the latest research available, the optimal range has recently been raised to between 50 and 65 ng/ml. This is the range where your body is finally beginning to store the vitamin in your tissues. Below this level, your body is using it up as quickly as it’s created.

The vitamin D level required for cancer protection, however, is even higher; between 65-90 ng/ml.

The amount of ingested vitamin D3 and/or UVB exposure required for optimal protection against cancer is still being determined. Each person responds differently to UVB exposure and oral intake of vitamin D depending on such factors as skin pigmentation, body mass index (vitamin D is fat soluble), age, condition of digestive tract, other dietary factors, etc.

However, as a general guideline, you will get maximal amount of vitamin D, about 20,000 units, if you are in the sun long enough to turn large areas of your skin the very lightest pink. Anything beyond that is unnecessary and will only contribute to premature skin aging, wrinkling and skin cancer.

The time to achieve this pink color could be as little as a few minutes in some fair skinned individuals to a few hours for some very dark skinned people.

If you are dark skinned you will need more sun exposure. If very fair, you may need less. Use your skin as a guide; once your skin takes on a very light pink flush, you’ve maxed out your vitamin D-making capacity. Stay in the sun longer, and you’ll likely just burn, which should be avoided.

The key though is to make sure you monitor your vitamin D levels by blood testing, to make sure your levels are therapeutic and not toxic. I advocate getting your vitamin D levels tested regularly, throughout the year.

For an in-depth explanation of everything you need to know before you get tested, please read my updated article Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency.