Recent studies show strong evidence of Vitamin D’s cancer prevention properties. These new findings have increased the possibilities of finding a cure or ways to prevent cancer. A deadly disease which has been the bane of the modern society, cancer is caused by uncontrolled growth and division of a group of cells. These genetically abnormal cells divide rapidly and spread into adjacent healthy tissues forming malignant tumors. This invasion is followed by metastasis, the breaking away of the cancer cells from the tumor and their spread by blood or lymph to different areas, which results in the spread of the disease through your body.
Through decades, research has been carried out by scientists worldwide to find a cure or ways to prevent this disease. A major breakthrough came recently with scientific studies giving strong indications of the Vitamin D cancer link. Vitamin D is a type of rare vitamin present in foods such as fish rich in fatty oils like salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod liver oil, egg yolk, meat, and mushroom. Even cereals and milks are fortified with Vitamin D. But the biggest source of Vitamin D is the Sun. Our skin has the capacity to naturally produce Vitamin D from exposure to the Sun.
Role of Vitamin D
Vitamin D not only strengthens our immune system , but it also keeps cardiovascular diseases at bay and improves our general health, reducing mortality rate. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium and its role in strengthening the bones, which in turn prevents degenerative diseases like osteoporosis. It also acts as a mood lifter reducing depression. A recent study has shown that Vitamin D has influence over more than 200 genes including the ones responsible for multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes and cancer.
Research has shown that lack of sunlight leads to cancer. People living in colder climates and having limited exposure to sunlight have been more prone to cancer. Although sunlight was associated with cancer a long time ago, only recent studies have brought to light the fact that it is actually the deficiency of Vitamin D which causes cancer. This breakthrough in science has shown that nearly 17 types of cancer can result from a vitamin D deficiency.
Breast cancer originates in the breast tissue in the milk ducts or the lobules of the ducts, it is one of the most common forms of cancer to affect women. The factors which can lead to breast cancer include age, race, menarche, childbirth, menopause, and alcohol consumption. Recent studies of breast cancer have also shown Vitamin D’s cancer prevention qualities. In case of elderly women, this becomes more important because with age, Vitamin D deficiency symptoms increase and puts older women at a higher risk of suffering from breast cancer. With age, Vitamin D supplementation becomes increasingly necessary.
Also known as larger bowel cancer or colon cancer, colorectal cancer originates in the rectum, colon and appendix. The results of the EPIC study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) which also highlighted the Vitamin D cancer link, monitored the lifestyle and food habits of an equal number of cancer patients and cancer-free participants. The study showed that vitamin D levels were markedly lower in the participants who had cancer. It was concluded that people who had the highest levels of Vitamin D in their circulation (100nm per liter) were at a 40% lower risk of developing cancer compared to those who had the lowest Vitamin D levels (25nm per liter).
Researches following the revelation of the Vitamin D cancer link have shown that with proper vitamin D supplementation, the risk of developing cancer can be lowered to a great extent. We can get Vitamin D from:
- Sunlight – While overexposure to sunlight is definitely harmful, underexposure is equally bad too. 15-30 minutes of sunlight everyday can synthesize a lot of Vitamin D, reducing the risk of cancer.
- Food – Including eggs, fatty oil rich fishes, liver and milk in your diet can get you 400 to 600 IU of Vitamin D daily. Though excess Vitamin D is not beneficial, you can include up to 2000 IU of Vitamin D every day in your diet.
- Vitamin D supplements – Easily available in medicine outlets, pharmacies or online, it is advisable to start on a supplementation program after consultation with a physician. With the medium level being (50-75) nm per liter, people who have Vitamin D levels of 75 nm per liter or more in their circulation have the lowest risk of developing cancer. While people with levels less than 50 nm per liter are more in danger of developing cancer.
Studies have shown that Vitamin D affects the working of a cell. Along with its immune system strengthening function, vitamin D also acts as a barrier for cancer cell proliferation reducing the chances of developing cancer.