Vitamin D and Cancer

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last updated: December 2005

Study affirmed Vitamin D may reduce the risk of breast, colon and ovarian cancer

On December 28, 2005, researchers from the University of California released their most recent findings on the possible role that Vitamin D may play in cancer prevention. Researchers reviewed 63 observational studies published between 1966 and 2004 and investigated vitamin D status in relation to cancer risk. They found that oral intake of 1000 IU vitamin D can reduce the risk of colon, breast and ovarian cancers by as much as 50 percent. The results of this study will be published in the American Journal of Public Health in February 2006.

Editor's Note - Vitamin D and Cancer

Currently, Vitamin D recommendations for people of 1 - 50 years of age is 200 IU daily; 400 IU for adults of 51 - 69 years of age. After age 70, 600 IU of vitamin D are recommended each day. This finding of the role of Vitamin D in cancer prevention is exciting, but not conclusive yet. This study did not take into consideration the amount and length of sun exposure or address the decreased ability of the elderly population to convert Vitamin D.

It is difficult to obtain 1000 IU of Vitamin D daily from food sources alone. One glass of milk contains 100 IU of Vitamin D.  Other food source includes fatty fish and egg yolks. The author of this study recommended taking 1000 IU of active form Vitamin D, i.e. D3 supplement daily. He also suggested that our skin can produce 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D when we spend 10 to 15 minutes in the sun on a sunny day without sunscreen if 40% of the body is exposed. However exposure to the sun without sunscreen is not recommended in light of skin cancer issues.

The tolerable upper intake level (UL) for Vitamin D is 2000 IU for people age 1 and above - in other words it is safe to consume up to 2000 IU of vitamin D daily. If you would like to adopt a healthy eating pattern to reduce cancer risk, try eating a lower fat diet rich in antioxidants and fiber with plenty of fruits & vegetables as well as whole grains.

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