Tags: Cancer | Diabetes | Heart Disease | vitamin | d | cancer | heart

Vitamin D Stops Cancer, Heart Disease: Researchers

By    |   Friday, 30 January 2015 09:09 AM

Vitamin D has long been associated with building healthy bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis, which is why it is often added to milk, cereal, and juice products. But the benefits of the “sunshine vitamin” go well beyond building strong bones, with a growing body of research suggesting vitamin D helps combat cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
 
In a special segment on Newsmax TV’s “Meet The Doctors” program, three physicians say a consensus is emerging among health professionals that vitamin D — from sunshine, dietary sources, and supplements — can help you live a longer and healthier life. In fact, a new study from the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine suggests a link between vitamin D deficiency and premature death from all causes.
 
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Dermatologist Jane Taylor, M.D., notes that vitamin D is absorbed by the skin and allows the body to absorb calcium, which is critical to strong, healthy bones. But during winter months, when people are indoors and may not get much sun exposure, vitamin D levels can fall.
 
“Vitamin D is very important because it lets the body use calcium to build strong bones, so if a person doesn’t have vitamin D then the bones get very week so it’s problematic,” she notes.
 
Joseph Raffaele, M.D., adds that vitamin D deficiencies have also been linked to a variety of mental and physical health conditions, including seasonal depression, cancer, and heart problems.
 
“There are myriad effects it can have — the most dramatic being rickets when you’re a child your bones don’t grow correctly,” says Dr. Raffaele, an anti-aging specialist. “We’ve largely conquered that and now we’re really looking at the more subtle manifestations of lack of vitamin D, such as an increase in risk for common cancers — breast cancer and colon cancer — cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders.
 
“We’re finding a whole bunch of other things that we didn’t think were referable to lower levels of vitamin D. And it’s not the really low levels … which cause rickets as a child, but it’s the suboptimal levels [of vitamin D] that can cause other problems.”
 
Last June, UCSD scientists linked vitamin D deficiency to increased risk of premature death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. The study, published in the British Medical Journal BMJ, also found low levels of the vitamin are tied to a higher risk of cognitive impairment in later life, and increased risk of asthma.
 
The researchers analyzed data from eight population-based studies from Europe and the U.S. involving 26,018 participants between the ages of 50 and 79 who were tracked for 16 years.

The team found a link between individuals with the lowest vitamin D levels — as determined by 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations in blood — and death from heart disease. This association was found in participants with and without a history of the disease.
 
The team also found an association between low vitamin D levels and death from cancer among participants with a history of the disease. But no such association was found among participants without a history of cancer, the researchers say, which indicates that vitamin D may be important in cancer prognosis.

Vitamin D is essential to our bodies. It helps regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in our bones, but also strengthens the immune system, and helps cell communication.
The main source of vitamin D is from the sun. Rahat Azvar, M.D., with Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, noted our bodies also manufacture the vitamin “to a certain extent, but it’s all dependent on our overall health, our age, and how much sun exposure we get, where in the world we live, as well as the skin color.”
 
In addition to the sun, many foods are important sources of vitamin D.
 
“There’s a lot of fortified foods — cereals and milk and juice products that have vitamin d fortification,” says Dr. Azvar. “There’s also fish [tuna, mackerel] that are oiler those have more vitamin D in them. Also you can get from beef liver some vitamin D.”
 
Dr. Raffaele adds that supplements can help improve levels, but may not provide as much benefit as sun exposure. Two examples: combatting seasonal affective disorder and sleep problems.
 
“You can just take a pill to increase your vitamin D levels,” he notes. “But there may be some other benefits to being in the sun that aren’t necessarily directly from vitamin D production — for instance setting into motion the right circadian rhythms so that you have serotonin production in the morning and that gets turned in to melatonin at night and you get a good night’s sleep.
 
“These are the kinds of things we don’t know as much as we should know about that and perhaps a small amount of sunlight daily would be beneficial for you.”
 
Dr. Taylor notes, however, that it’s important to balance the benefits of sun exposure against the risks of skin-damaging solar radiation.

“Theproblem is there are risks associated with getting all that sun exposure, aside from the benefits of getting vitamin D, so the risks have to be weighed against the benefits,” she explains.

“There is something called cumulative sun exposure over a lifetime and there is a threshold where you can start developing skin cancers and also wrinkles — and it’s a very big problem in the United States. There are 3.5 million new skin cancers every year and that’s a big public health problem.”
 

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Vitamin D has long been associated with building healthy bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis. But a growing body of research suggests the 'sunshine vitamin' also helps combat cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
vitamin, d, cancer, heart, disease
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2015-09-30
Friday, 30 January 2015 09:09 AM
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