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Vitamin D

Death Rate from Cancer Slashed 55 Percent with High Vitamin D Levels

Thursday, September 18, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: vitamin D, cancer prevention, health news

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(NaturalNews) A higher vitamin D intake can decrease your risk of dying from cancer by 55 percent, new research has shown.

Researchers measured blood levels of vitamin D in 3,299 people taking part in the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health study. Because the vitamin occurs in two different biologically active forms in the body, researchers measured both levels of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D; the biologically active form) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D; the storage form). In the study's 7.75-year follow-up period, 95 participants died from cancers of various kinds - the most common being cancers of the colon, lung and pancreas.

After adjusting for a variety of confounding factors, the researchers found that people with the highest blood levels of 25(OH)D had a 55 percent lower risk of dying from cancer than those with the lowest levels.

The high average blood concentration was 76.3 nanomoles per liter, while the low was 18.1 nanomoles per liter. Every 25 nanomole per liter increase in levels of the storage form of the vitamin corresponded to a 34 percent lower risk of dying from cancer.

The researchers did not find a connection between the risk of death from cancer and blood levels of 1,25(OH)2D. They noted, however, that blood levels of 25(OH)D are a more accurate of intracellular 1,25(OH)2D levels than blood levels of 1,25(OH)2D itself, suggesting that the active form of vitamin D does play a crucial role in preventing fatal cancers.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

The actual chemical known as vitamin D occurs in one of two forms: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Either of these forms can then be processed by the liver and kidneys into the active and storage forms of 1,25(OH)2D and 25(OH)D, respectively.

Vitamin D2 or D3 can be acquired from the diet or from supplements, but the most common source is for it to actually be produced by the body itself, in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.

Many people living in northern climates, particularly those with darker skin or anyone during winter months, may have trouble synthesizing enough vitamin D from sunlight alone, however. Recent studies suggest that as much as 60 percent of the population in northern climes may have insufficient bodily levels of the vitamin.

In children, vitamin D deficiency can cause the bone-softening disease rickets, which can lead to permanent physical deformities. In adults, vitamin D deficiency is has long been known to damage bone health, including increasing the risk of osteoporosis, bone fractures and muscle weakness. Increasing evidence also suggests that vitamin D plays a crucial role in healthy immune system functioning and cancer prevention.

Based on this new research, many health experts are pushing governments to raise the recommended daily values of the vitamin, from 400 IU to 1,000 IU.

"These data support other studies suggesting that vitamin D supplementation might be promising for the treatment and/or prevention of cancer," the researchers in the current study wrote, "and are in line with the national recommendation of the Canadian Cancer Society for the supplementation of 1,000 IU/d vitamin D for all adults during winter and for persons at high risk for vitamin D deficiency all year-round."

While vitamin D can be dangerous in high quantities, daily amounts up to 10,000 IU are generally considered to be safe.

Spurred by recent research, Canada's health agency has asked the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine in Washington to conduct a new review on how much vitamin D the average Canadian needs daily. Previously, the Canadian government has based its recommendations on studies conducted in the United States, where the sunlight is stronger.

Sources for this story include: www.foodnavigator-usa.com.

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