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Vitamin D3 exerts a powerful anti-breast-cancer effect. A recent study concluded that women with the highest Vitamin D3 blood levels had a remarkable 70% reduction in their risk of breast cancer [1]. Another study revealed that women with higher Vitamin D3 levels had a 50% reduction compared to women with the lowest Vitamin D3 levels [2].

Some medical experts have stated that about half of all breast cancers could be eliminated if we simply consumed enough Vitamin D3. That’s astounding!

Additional medical studies show that breast cancer patients may fare worse if they are low on Vitamin D3. One study found that breast cancer patients with the lowest Vitamin D3 level had nearly a 200% chance of their cancer progressing, and a 73% greater risk of death [3]. Another study discovered that women with low Vitamin D3 intake tend to have denser breast tissues in mammogram tests [4]. Dense breast tissue is considered a sign of higher breast cancer risk. Some researchers believe that Vitamin D3 may produce the biggest benefits against the most aggressive cancers.

I first learned about Vitamin D3’s link to breast cancer two years ago while visiting a top US medical hospital where many of my nutrition studies are conducted. I was shocked to learn from the cancer center’s staff that nearly 100% of the women diagnosed at the clinic were “critically low” in Vitamin D3.

The American Medical Association (AMA) strongly recommends that physicians test patients for Vitamin D3 deficiency. This great initiative was triggered by the discovery that 70 to 80% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D3 [5]. Breast cancer researchers recently reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that 74% of breast cancer patients in their clinic were Vitamin D3 deficient [6]. Vitamin D3 supplementation in these patients, even at twice the current daily recommended amount (the 200 IU recommended by the IOM), was still too low to restore normal Vitamin D3 levels. The researchers state, "Although the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D in premenopausal women is only 200 IU daily, our study suggests that a dose of 400 IU daily is inadequate in breast cancer patients, even to maintain skeletal health, and is probably too low for meaningful anticancer effects."

Indisputably, most doctors have neglected basic nutritional care of patients due to a drug-focused mindset in the past. As noted, the promising news is that many doctors are finally opening their eyes to the healing powers of food and dietary supplements.

WHY ARE SO MANY OF US DEFICIENT?

Vitamin D3 is normally produced in our bodies by exposure to sunlight, or obtained from our diets in foods that contain Vitamin D3 like fortified-milk, some cereals, orange juice, oily fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel), cod fish, shrimp, eggs, and dietary supplements. Due to our obsession with avoiding wrinkles, and concerns over skin cancer, most of us completely cover our skin with sunscreen and protective clothing year-round. We don’t get any type of sun exposure on a regular basis, so we don’t make enough Vitamin D3 in our skin. Combined with our deteriorating diets that are increasingly filled with poorer food containing little to no Vitamin D3, it is simple math. We don’t make enough in our skin, or eat enough in our diets, to lower our cancer risks.

It is a high priority to have your Vitamin D3 blood levels measured by your doctor.

At my urging, most of my family members and friends have tested their Vitamin D3 levels by now. Their doctors were usually surprised or puzzled when they ask to be tested. However, when the test results often found “critically low” Vitamin D3 levels, the doctors started testing others. Many of the doctors have now tested their entire patient bases. Vitamin D3 testing is critical for everyone, so make sure you share this information with your doctor. You can help save lives.

Specifically, you need to ask your doctor to be tested for “25-hydroxyvitamin D” levels. Your doctor will draw a small amount of blood from your arm for testing (just like when you have your cholesterol tested). If your Vitamin D3 levels are low, you will likely be prescribed a prescription strength Vitamin D3 pill, supplying 50,000 IU once weekly, for a few weeks to a few months. You will then be retested several weeks after finishing your treatment to make sure your Vitamin D3 level is restored to normal. If your level is still low, you may be put on another round of prescription pills. After your levels are normal, you can maintain your levels with a daily dietary supplement pill and fortified-foods.

Working with your doctor, you need to take the amount that keeps your blood levels in the “30 to 60 ng/mL” range. The only way to determine the daily amount that you personally need is to have your Vitamin D3 levels measured regularly, and then adjust your daily dose up or down based on the test results. A Vitamin D3 blood level of 50 ng/mL or higher may produce the greatest reduction in breast cancer risk. Working with your doctor, you can achieve a Vitamin D3 blood level of 50 ng/mL or higher by taking 4000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily. Alternately, you can consume 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day and spend about 12 minutes daily in the sun with 50% of your body exposed. Remember, your doctor may want to prescribe 50,000 IU weekly to quickly restore normal levels before starting a daily maintenance regimen.

Proper Vitamin D3 levels produce many benefits that extend well beyond breast tissues. Experts have connected Vitamin D3 depletion to bone problems, cancers (including colon, ovarian, lung, pancreatic, and prostate cancers), cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aches and pains in the muscles, joints, and back, weakness and fatigue, and several autoimmune conditions [7, 8].

Are you ready to reduce your risk of breast cancer by simply eating enough Vitamin D3?

References:

1. Abbas S, Linseisen J, Slanger T, Kropp S, Mutschelknauss EJ, Flesch-Janys D, Chang-Claude J. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of post-menopausal breast cancer – results of a large case-control study. Carcinogenesis 2008; 29:93-99.

2. Garland CF, Gorham ED, Mohr SB, Grant WB, Giovannucci EL, Lipkin M, Newmark H, Holick MF, Garland FC. Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 2007; 103:708-711.

3. Goodwin PJ, Ennis M, Pritchard KI, Koo J, Hood, N. Frequency of vitamin D (Vit D) deficiency at breast cancer (BC) diagnosis and association with risk of distant recurrence and death in a prospective cohort study of T1-3, N0-1, M0 BC. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2008; 26 (May 20 suppl), abstr 511.

4. Berube S, Diorio C, Verhoek-Oftedahl W, Brisson J. Vitamin D, calcium, and mammographic breast densities. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prevention 2004; 13:1466-72.

5. Robinowitz CB. Appropriate Supplementation of Vitamin D: Report of the Council on Science and Public Health. American Medical Association Council on Science and Public Health 2009, CSAPH Report 4-A-09. URL: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/our-people/ama-councils/council-science-public-health/reports/2009-reports.shtml

6. Crew KD, Shane E, Cremers S, McMahon DJ, Irani D, Hershman DL. High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency despite supplementation in premenopausal women with breast cancer undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2009; 27:2151-2156.

7. Borradale D, Kimlin M. Vitamin D in health and disease: an insight into traditional functions and new roles for the ‘sunshine vitamin’. Nutrition Research Reviews 2009; 22:118-136.

8. Grant WB. Relationship between prediagnostic serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and incidence of breast, colorectal, and other cancers. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology 2010; In Press

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