For the past several years, there has been considerable interest in the role vitamin D plays in improving health and preventing disease. Previous finding show that low levels of vitamin D have been directly associated with various forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Stephen B. Kritchevsky, PhD, Professor of Internal Medicine and Transitional Science at the Wake Forest School of Medicine found a signficant correlation.
"We observed vitamin D insufficiency (defined as blood levels <20 ng/ml), in one third of our study participants. This was associated with nearly a 50 percent increase in the mortality rate in older adults," said Kritchevsky. "Our findings suggest that low levels of vitamin D may be a substantial public health concern for our nation's older adults."
Although vitamin D can be obtained from limited dietary sources and directly from exposure to the sun during the spring and summer months, the combination of poor dietary intake and sun avoidance has created vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency in large proportions of many populations worldwide. It is known that vitamin D has a wide range of physiological effects and that correlations exist between insufficient amounts of vitamin D and an increased incidence of a number of cancers. These correlations are particularly strong for cancers of the digestive tract, including colon cancer, and certain forms of leukemia.
"Almost every disease decreases in frequency and duration as we move towards equatorial populations, and the data shows that there is a minimum of a 1000 percent
increase for many diseases in countries furthest from the equator, however we have obtained the same results based on data through populations and vitamin D supplementation," said Dr. Anthony Petaku who studies the effects of Vitamin D2 and D3 on mutating cells.
"Physicians need to pay close attention to vitamin D levels in people who have been diagnosed with cancer," say Chinese researchers.
Better Chances of Survival
In a recent study, author Dr Hui Wang, said: "The results suggest vitamin D may influence the prognosis for people with breast cancer, colorectal cancer and lymphoma, in particular."
The meta-analysis, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, included 25 studies and 17,332 cancer patients. In the majority of the research included the patients were tested for vitamin D levels before undergoing any cancer treatment. The researchers from Shanghai's Institute for Nutritional Sciences and other Chinese universities and institutions found a ten nanomole/liter (nmol/L) increase in vitamin D levels correlated with an increased survival rate of 4%.
In another study in Anticancer Research, breast cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood are twice as likely to survive the disease as those with lower levels, new research has suggested.
A study by Dr. William Grant, Ph.D., internationally recognized research scientist and vitamin D expert, found that 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.
Higher vitamin D (25(OH)D) levels were "significantly associated" with reduced cancer-specific mortality for patients with colorectal cancer and lymphoma, while improved disease-free survival for patients with breast cancer or lymphoma was observed.
Meanwhile the researchers found less evidence of a connection in people with lung cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, melanoma or Merkel cell carcinoma, but said the data available was positive.
The paper speculated that cancer patients with higher vitamin D levels had an improved overall survival because of better general health status. "Due to the limited data of randomized controlled trials, it is unclear whether vitamin D status is causally related to diseases or if circulating 25(OH)D merely acts as a biomarker for health status of patients," the researchers wrote.
No significant difference in levels was found for patients with early or later stages of the diseases.
"Considering that vitamin D deficiency is a widespread issue all over the world, it is important to ensure that everyone has sufficient levels of this important nutrient," Dr Wang said. "Physicians need to pay close attention to vitamin D levels in people who have been diagnosed with cancer."
Professional recommendations for supplementation are made for groups at risk of deficiency including pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under the age of five not fed infant formula, people over 65 and those not exposed to much sun. It says supplementation should not exceed 25 micrograms (0.025mg) a day, as it "could be harmful".
It said taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time could cause more calcium to be absorbed than can be excreted, which could lead to kidney damage and softened and weakened bones.
For this reason it's very important to take a high quality calcium and magensium supplement with vitamin D such as
Life Choice Opti-Cal/Mag Complex which also contains Vitamin K2 which in itself also has been found to prevent cancer and also improve bone, cardiovascular, skin, brain, and now prostate health.
Mae Chan holds degrees in both physiology and nutritional sciences. She is also blogger and and technology enthusiast with a passion for disseminating information about health.