Vitamin D with Calcium vital for preventing cancer

February 12, 2008

A growing body of scientists believes that most Americans and Europeans do not have enough vitamin D to protect them from a cross section of dangerous diseases, and according to this latest study adding to many others - this could be putting them at significant risk of developing cancer.

Scientists at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska studied 1,179 healthy, postmenopausal women for 4 years. They found that those taking large amounts of vitamin D supplements slashed their risk of developing cancer by 60%. Lead researcher, Professor Joan Lappe, Ph.D., RN., who is well known for her numerous published studies on women’s health, especially dealing with osteoporosis and fractures, says “The findings are very exciting”, “Vitamin D is a critical tool in fighting cancer as well as many other diseases”.

The women who were all 55 years or older and free of known cancers for at least 10 years prior to entering the study, were randomly given 1,100 IU of vitamin D3 daily with Calcium supplementation at 1.400-1.500 mg. a day, a second group received Calcium only, and the third group received inactive placebo. Over the four-year trial women on Calcium with Vitamin D experienced a 60 % drop in the risk of developing cancer. The researchers then subtracted the first year of the study because women may have joined with an existing but yet undiagnosed cancer and the group supplemented with both Vitamin D and Calcium had an incredible drop of 77 percent in their risk of developing cancer. The study is published in the June 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Raising Vitamin D levels could cut down the number of people who develop colon or breast cancer by tens-of-thousands each year

In lab experiments Vitamin D helps prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading. In published clinical trials people who were supplemented with high dosages of Vitamin D had fewer cancers. In this new study scientists from the University of California, San Diego, compared the average-wintertime blood levels and the rates of both colon and breast cancer in 15 countries. The rates of the cancers fell as the blood levels of Vitamin D increased. The average late-winter Vitamin D level among Americans was 15-18 ng/ml. The protective effect against colon cancer appeared to begin when blood levels reached 22 ng/ml. For breast cancer the protective effect started when blood levels reached 32 ng/ml. Based on the data the researchers argue that if Americans were able to maintain a Vitamin D level of at least 55 ng/ml, there would be 60,000 fewer cases of colon cancer (number of new cases estimated each year in the USA is 107,300), and 85,000 fewer cases of breast cancer (out of an estimated 180,000 new cases each year). Therefore about 56% of all cases of colon cancer and 47% of all cases of breast cancer in the USA would be totally prevented simply by raising the blood level of this inexpensive and safe Vitamin (and that is just in one year). Worldwide the number of colon cancer cases would drop by 250,000 and the number of cases of breast cancer would drop by 350,000. The researchers estimate that besides modest sun exposure people should consume 2000 IU of Vitamin D every day. The study is published in the August 2007 issue of the journal Nutrition Reviews.

by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.; my recent lab test shows that the level of active Vitamin D in my blood as measured by the active form (1,25,Dihydroxycholecalciferol) is 42.5 ng/ml. The normal level according to the lab (BioReference Laboratories) ranges from 25.1 to 66.1 ng/ml. A year ago I would have been very happy with this level, but now I have increased my daily intake to 2,200 IU of Vitamin D3; D3 converts to the active form better than D2. Many people are deficient in Vitamin D and they depend on dairy as a source but a glass of milk typically supplies only 100 IU of Vitamin D and many multiple vitamins also supply as little as 100 IU. According to many studies Vitamin D decreases the risk of colon, breast, prostate, ovarian, rectal (in some populations), and pancreatic, and other cancers and adequate Vitamin D levels are needed to cut cancer incidence.

High dose Calcium and Vitamin D3 improves the strength of bone in patients with fractures related to osteoporosis.

A low energy fracture is breaking a bone easily, for instance from a fall that would have no consequence in most people. This occurs in osteoporosis and some say in the forerunner to osteoporosis known as osteopenia where bone is not at an optimally healthy level but not truly thinned and weakened yet either. Low-energy fractures of the hip, forearm, shoulder and spine are known consequences of osteoporosis; the brittle bone condition.

In this study 122 patients who recently suffered with a low energy fracture of the hip or spine were placed on 3000mg of Calcium Carbonate and 1400 IU of Vitamin D3 every day or an inactive placebo for one year. The strength and health of the bone in the lumbar spine improved in the supplemented group but deteriorated further in the placebo group. There was a significant difference in bone density of the spine between the two groups. The effect on the hip was mineral but the supplement decreased the loss of bone. Supplementation significantly improved the strength of bones in patients younger than 70 years, and decreased bone loss in those over 70. The study is published in the July 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Having a low level of Vitamin D increases your risk of developing diabetes, and supplementing with Calcium and Vitamin D may decrease your risk

Scientists at the US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts and the Harvard School of Public Health performed a meta-analysis on existing studies including this year evaluating a connection between Vitamin D and Calcium levels and the risk of diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Observational studies showed a relatively consistent association between low Vitamin D status and prevalent diabetes with a 64% increased risk of developing diabetes for those with the highest vs. the lowest blood levels of active Vitamin D. In those with the lowest intake of Calcium or dairy there is a 29% increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome with the highest vs. the highest intake. In clinical trials where subjects were supplemented with Calcium and Vitamin D, the combination may decrease the risk of developing diabetes in high risk populations. In short a lack of Calcium and Vitamin D increase the risk of developing diabetes and supplementing with these nutrients may improve glucose metabolism and decrease the risk of diabetes. The study is published in the June 2007 issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Outlive your neighbor; take Vitamin D

This is a very large analysis of 18 existing studies on Vitamin D that included over 57,000 adults in the USA, Europe, and the U.K. that had to include mortality rates. Most of these adults were frail, older, and low in Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is too common and the current recommended intake of Vitamin D is too low according to many top experts. The participants were typically assigned to take Vitamin D supplements or inactive placebo. The dosage ranged from 300 to 2000 IU daily and the participants were followed for 5.7 years on average. Even in these frail-older adults there was a 7% decrease risk of dying. The study is published in the September 10th, 2007 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association.

by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.; in some of these studies Vitamin D2 was used, and Vitamin D2 does not convert to active vitamin D as well as Vitamin D3 does. Research is indicating that for ultimate protection Vitamin D intake may need to be as high as 2000 IU of D3 daily. Ecological and observational studies suggest that low vitamin D status is associated with higher mortality from life threatening conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes; conditions that account for 60% to 70% of total deaths in high-income countries. In the last several decades many studies have documented nontraditional roles for vitamin D besides its well recognized role in bone strength. These studies show a role for Vitamin D in preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, glucose intolerance, infection, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy complications and stillbirths, and gum disease. Additionally Vitamin D is consistently tied to a decreased risk of falling in the elderly, improved muscle strength and leg strength.

Having a low level of Vitamin D accounts for about 50% of all cases of high blood pressure in African Americans

Researchers from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, note that populations with a poor level of vitamin D such as seen in African Americans, have increased blood pressure compared to lighter skinned people. The analysis was restricted to 12,644 in the USA. African Americans had lower vitamin D levels on average than Mexican Americans who had lower levels than white Americans. When the blood level of active Vitamin D was separated into 5 brackets or quintiles, those in the lowest group had a significant elevation in blood pressure vs. those with Vitamin D levels in the highest group; the difference was enough to trigger a stroke (3 mm Hg for systolic and 1.6 mm Hg for diastolic). However, if a person was heavy this also accounted for an increase in blood pressure. The final tally was that low levels of Vitamin D explained about half of the increased blood pressure in African Americans and the relationship was more severe in those over 50. This very important research is published in the July 2007 issue of the American Journal of Hypertension.