By Charles H. Baughman, M.D.
It’s time again to stress the importance of vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D is important to bone, cardiovascular health, and in cancer prevention. Deficiency has been associated with several cancers, including breast cancer. Given that breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the U.S., efforts toward identifying modifiable risk factors is especially appealing.
The most recent issue of Townsend Letter, The Examiner of Alternative Medicine, reviews observations and studies regarding vitamin D and breast cancer. Early studies suggested that vitamin D could have the potential for prevention, because northern latitudes and less exposure to sun seemed to be associated with higher breast cancer rates. Several studies using small doses of vitamin D and calcium were not conclusive in regard to prevention. Two studies were published regarding this in 2007.
The latest study, The Long Island Cancer Project Study, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12206514 looked at blood levels of vitamin D and the occurrence breast, colon and ovarian cancer. It was determined that vitamin D levels above 52 ng per milliliter in the blood were needed to prevent cancer of these organs. Using that index, 75% of women who had an initial diagnosis of breast cancer were deficient in vitamin D. They estimated that the first meaningful increment of breast cancer prevention would require 2000 international units of vitamin D3 per day.
In addition, lower levels of vitamin D have been associated with higher breast cancer recurrence rate and mortality. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with faster progression of metastasis.
It is my practice to initially test patients, both men and women, for vitamin D levels. There is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is important in men for colon and prostate cancer prevention. I start patients on vitamin D3 5000 international units daily, higher if indicated, and retest in 3 months. Very few patients whom I have tested have normal vitamin D levels.
What is your level? Make sure that it is above 60 ng per milliliter. It often takes at least 5000 international units a day to achieve and maintain this level. And I recommend periodic blood tests. Get tested soon!
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The guidelines provided on this website are for general information only. Baughman Anti-Aging Medicine strongly recommends that you consult your physician before pursuing any regimen listed in this website.