"Enhancing vitamin D status appears to be the single most important simple thing people can do to reduce their risk of cancer, apart from avoiding tobacco and moderation in the intake of alcohol," say Cedric Garland and William Grant, the study's authors.
The researchers recommend that people get their vitamin D from exposure to natural sunlight. Fair-skinned people who live in sunny regions of the country can produce about 1,500 IU of vitamin D in 20 minutes of exposure at noon if only 10 to 20 percent of their body is exposed -- such as chest, back and arms. People should try to expose more of their skin surface for a shorter amount of time, rather than stay in the sun longer with minimal skin exposure, the study says.
Darker-skinned people may take up to four times as long to make the same amount of vitamin D as fair-skinned people. The researchers believe this may be the cause of higher cancer rates in African-Americans.
"Vitamin D is the 'miracle anti-cancer drug' that should be front-page news around the world," says Mike Adams, consumer health advocate and holistic nutritionist. "If it were a patented drug, it would be heralded as the cancer breakthrough of the century. But because people can make it for free, without a prescription, conventional medicine routinely ignores it and even makes an effort to scare people away from sensible sunlight exposure," he says.
The study recommends wearing hats to avoid prolonged sun exposure on more sensitive parts of the body, such as the face, and to keep moving when in the sun. Garland and Grant caution fair-skinned people to avoid over-exposure, since the skin produces sufficient vitamin D in just 20 minutes a day. Vitamin D can also be supplemented at 1,000 to 1,500 IU per day, and the study warns that the 250 to 300 IU Americans typically get through their diets is not adequate for cancer protection.