Vitamin D - reduce the risk of cancer
Have you checked your vitamin D level lately? Ideally, you want to maintain a vitamin D level of 40 to 60 ng/ml year-round. Based on mounting research, 40 ng/ml appears to be the "magic" number at which a multitude of health benefits are earned.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a several illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease, infectious diseases, and several lethal cancers. This includes breast, colon, prostate, ovaries, oesophagus, lymphatic system cancers and even melanoma.
It's no surprise then that in a resent large scale study vitamin D deficiency had an 88 percent increased risk of death from any cause. This is the kind of benefit I'm talking about when I say it would be wise to temper fears of melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — and weigh that risk against other benefits, such as a significantly reduced risk of death from any disease.
Furthermore, by following sensible sun exposure guidelines and making sure you do not get burned, you can maximise the benefits and minimise the risks of skin damage that could lead to skin cancer. On the whole, overexposure, not avoiding all sun exposure, is the real problem when it comes to raising the risk for skin cancer.
Prior research found that a vitamin D level of 50 ng/ml was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer patients with an average vitamin D level of 30 ng/ml were also twice as likely to survive compared to women with low levels (average 17 ng/ml). Most recently, researchers reported that raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) to 40ng/ml can slash your risk of all invasive cancers by 67 percent.
By pooling data from two previous studies — one randomised trial and one cohort study, the former of which showed a 77 percent lower cancer risk for women with a vitamin D level of 40 ng/ml compared to a baseline of 28 ng/ml — they were able to get a much larger sample size with a broader range of vitamin D levels.
This allowed the researchers to accurately determine the ideal vitamin D level for cancer prevention. The study included ALL invasive cancers, with the exception of skin cancer, and had a follow-up period of nearly four years.
Vitamin D influences nearly every cell in the body, and is without question critical to radical reduction of cancer risk. Our organs can convert the vitamin D in our bloodstream into calcitriol, which is the hormonal or activated version of vitamin D. The organs then use it to repair damage, including that from cancer cells. Vitamin D also triggers apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells.
In related news, researchers recently discovered that men, who were diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer, have vitamin D levels below 23 ng/ml. According to this study, vitamin D may actually be used as a biomarker to predict the aggressiveness of prostate cancer.
Yet another recent study found that vitamin D has "nothing short of amazing" ability to improve heart function in those with chronic heart failure. The five-year long trial included 160 patients undergoing conventional treatment for chronic heart failure; half of them were given a vitamin D3 supplement, the other half received a placebo in addition to their standard of care. After one year, the vitamin D group experienced significant improvement in heart function compared to the placebo group.
Indeed, dermatologists have severely compromised the public health by fighting an irrational and dangerous war against UV exposure, be it from the sun or UV light devices. Disease statistics reveal the sun-scare campaign has really been taken too far.
Sun avoidance actually increases your risk of death very similar to that of smoking. That was the conclusion of a recent "competing risk" analysis by Swedish researchers, who found that while women with active sun exposure habits had a higher risk of melanoma compared to sun avoiders, they also had a lower risk of mortality from far more deadly diseases than melanoma, including cardiovascular disease.
A growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D plays a crucial role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health. There are about 30,000 genes our body, and vitamin D affects nearly 3,000 of them, as well as vitamin D receptors located throughout your body.
According to one large-scale study, optimal Vitamin D levels can slash the risk of cancer by as much as 60 percent. Keeping vitamin D levels optimised can help prevent at least 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers.
I always recommend to combine vitamin D with vitamin K2, you can read more about this here.
Finally, make sure to have your vitamin D levels checked with a blood test. Vitamin D levels decrease with age due to decreased production by the skin in response to sunlight, decreased sun exposure due to more time spent indoors and weight gain, which can lower vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with sarcopenia (age related muscle loss), so taking a daily supplement if you are low is important.