LMU 170 – Vitamin D: Your Secret Weapon Against Cancer
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association (2017)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (August 20, 2020)
The Vitamin D Revelation
In 2017, a groundbreaking study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association resurfaced the crucial connection between vitamin D and cancer risk. This research shed light on a vital aspect of vitamin D: its role in protecting us from one of the most formidable adversaries of our health – cancer. The study’s findings were nothing short of astonishing, suggesting that our blood levels of this essential vitamin play a pivotal role in safeguarding us against this relentless disease.
The Magic Number: 82.5 nmol/L
While most government recommendations stipulate that a vitamin D blood level ranging from 50-80 nmol/L (20-32 ng/ml) is sufficient for maintaining a healthy vitamin D status, this study introduced a game-changing perspective. According to the researchers, the threshold for optimal protection against cancer lies at a vitamin D blood level of at least 82.5 nmol/L (33 ng/ml). They firmly contested the prevailing recommendations and made a compelling case for a more proactive approach to vitamin D intake.
Unveiling the Study
This comprehensive four-year study enrolled over 2,000 postmenopausal women aged fifty-five and older hailing from thirty-one counties in Nebraska. These women were randomly assigned to one of two groups: a daily regimen of 2000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 along with 1500 mg of calcium or identical placebos. The study’s primary focus was to evaluate the impact of vitamin D on cancer risk, particularly in postmenopausal women.
The results were astonishing: women who maintained blood vitamin D levels at or above 82.5 nmol/L (33 ng/ml) enjoyed a 30% lower risk of cancer compared to their counterparts whose vitamin D levels fell below this crucial threshold. The implications were clear; achieving and maintaining optimal vitamin D levels in the blood could be an instrumental factor in reducing one’s risk of cancer.
The Science Behind the Shield
So, what is the science behind vitamin D’s protective mantle against cancer? As one of the researchers, Joan Lappe, explains, vitamin D is a vital player in the proper functioning of most cells in the human body. Without adequate vitamin D, cells are more susceptible to transformations that lead to malignancy. Vitamin D operates as a sentinel, guarding cells against unwarranted changes that could set the stage for cancer development.
Moreover, it’s essential to consider the context in which we obtain our vitamin D. While our skin can produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, the widespread use of sunscreen products effectively hinders this natural process. In addition, the modern lifestyle, which often keeps individuals indoors, further contributes to suboptimal vitamin D levels.
Given the profound implications of this study, the takeaway is clear: take charge of your health by having your blood vitamin D levels assessed by your healthcare provider. If your levels fall below the critical threshold of 82.5 nmol/L (33 ng/ml), it’s time to consider a supplementation program. This proactive step could potentially reduce your overall cancer risk by an impressive 30%, aligning with the findings of this and other impactful studies.
In the battle against cancer, knowledge is power. Armed with the understanding of vitamin D’s role in this fight, you can take concrete steps to safeguard your health. Consider this revelation as a potent reminder that sometimes, a humble vitamin can be your most robust ally against formidable foes.
- Main Reference: Joan Lappe, Patrice Watson, Dianne Travers-Gustafson, Robert Recker, Cedric Garland, Edward Gorham, Keith Baggerly, Sharon L. McDonnell. Effect of Vitamin D and Calcium Supplementation on Cancer Incidence in Older Women. JAMA, 2017 [Read the Study](https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2613159)
- JoAnn E. Manson, Shari S. Bassuk, Julie E. Buring. Vitamin D, Calcium, and Cancer. JAMA, 2017; 317 (12): 1217 [Read the Study](https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2613138)
- [ScienceDaily: Higher vitamin D levels associated with lower cancer risk, study suggests](https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170328120835.htm)
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.