Vitamin D may help with cancer prevention

Vitamin D

By pH health care professionals

You may have heard about the health benefits of vitamin D before – for migrainesuterine fibroidsmemoryhives, bone strength, mood and your immune system. But did you know research shows it may help prevent cancer as well?

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found that higher levels of vitamin D are associated with a reduced risk of cancer, ScienceDaily reports. The findings were recently published in PLOS ONE.

The aim of the study was to figure out what blood level of vitamin D was needed in order to reduce cancer risk.

The researchers pulled from two previous studies to obtain a larger sample size. One study was a clinical trial of 1,169 women. Clinical trials determine whether a test or treatment is safe/effective. The other study was a prospective study of 1,135 women. A prospective study “looks for outcomes during the study period,” ScienceDaily explains, which, in this case, is incidence of cancer among study participants.

They found that the women with vitamin D blood levels of 40 ng/ml or greater had a 67 percent lower risk of cancer than the women with levels of 20 ng/ml or less.

“These findings support an inverse association between [vitamin D]  and risk of cancer," Cedric Garland, one of the study authors, said, "and highlight the importance for cancer prevention of achieving a vitamin D blood serum concentration above 20 ng/ml, the concentration recommended by the [Institute of Medicine] for bone health.”

Is 40 ng/ml a significant increase from what doctors currently look for in vitamin D tests?

Though there is quite a range when it comes to doctors’ recommendations for optimal vitamin D levels, the National Institutes of Health considers levels below 12 ng/ml to constitute a deficiency, and levels below 20 ng/ml to be “inadequate for bone and overall health.” This finding reinforces what some health care professionals have been recommending, that vitamin D levels may need to be higher than what is currently recommended.

How can you ensure your vitamin D levels are adequate?

You can test your serum blood levels to see if you are deficient or borderline deficient. You can increase your vitamin D levels by spending time in the sun, eating vitamin D-fortified foods, and/or taking supplements. Note that you can overdo it on the supplements. The study authors did not make a case for which way is the best way to get your vitamin D (sunlight exposure, food or supplements), but what is clear is that reduced cancer risk is noticeable at 40 ng/ml.

Schedule your vitamin D test soon!

It all comes down to being proactive

Monitoring your blood vitamin D levels and working with a skilled health care professional to optimize your levels may help you live a healthier life, enjoy better long-term health, and reduce your cancer risk.

“Primary prevention of cancer, rather than expanding early detection or improving treatment, will be essential to reversing the current upward trend of cancer incidence worldwide," the researchers wrote. "This analysis suggests that improving vitamin D status is a key prevention tool.”

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.