NMU 170 – Higher Vitamin D Blood Levels May Cut Cancer Risk By 30%
Lifestyle Medicine Update No 170 (August 18, 2020)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Higher Vitamin D Blood Levels May Cut Cancer Risk By 30%
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association (2017)
An important study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017 showed once again that higher blood levels of vitamin D are associated with a reduced risk of cancer. More specifically, the researchers highlighted the fact that the blood level that provides protection against cancer is a vitamin D blood level at or above 82.5 nmol/L (33 ng/ml). Most government recommendations suggest that a blood level of 50-80 nmol/L (20-32 ng/ml) is more than adequate, as an indicator of healthy vitamin D status. But the researchers involved in this study strongly contest those recommendations stating that for cancer prevention a blood level of at least 82.5 nmol/L (33 ng/ml) should be the goal.
This four-year study involved over 2,000 healthy postmenopausal women 55 years and older from 31 counties in Nebraska. Participants were randomly assigned to take either 2000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 and 1500 mg of calcium or identical placebos daily for 4 years. The study showed that women who maintained blood vitamin D levels at or above 82.5 nmol/L (33 ng/ml) had a 30% lower risk of cancer compared to women whose blood vitamin D levels were below 82.5 nmol/L (33 ng/ml). According to one of the researchers (Lappe), most cells in the body need vitamin D to function properly and without adequate vitamin D cells can more easily be transformed into malignant cells. The researchers go on to point out that while people can make their own vitamin D when they are in the sun near mid-day, the use of sunscreen lotions and sprays block most vitamin D production in the skin. As well, due to people spending more time indoors, many individuals do have ideal blood levels of vitamin D in our society.
The take-home message appears to be to get your blood vitamin D level checked by your doctor. If your level is below 82.5 nmol/L (33 ng/ml) then speak to your doctor about a supplementation program that would ensure that you get your vitamin D level into the desirable range. It may help to reduce your overall risk of cancer by 30% according to the findings of this and other studies.
I have included the references for this information in the text below
1. 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; 317 (12): 1234. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2613159
2. JoAnn E. Manson, Shari S. Bassuk, Julie E. Buring. Vitamin D, Calcium, and Cancer. JAMA, 2017; 317 (12): 1217 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2613138
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,