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Science & Technology: Is Vitamin D The Key To Preventing Breast Cancer?
Two scientific articles help to answer this important question. The first article, published in the Oct. 31, 2007 online issue of the journal Carcinogenesis, is titled "Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and Risk of Postmenopausal Breast Cancer-Results of a Large Case-Control Study." This article is very important because it revealed that women in the study who maintained levels of vitamin D-specifically serum 25- hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D-greater than 75 nmol/L reduced their risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer by 69 percent.
The second article, published in the Nov. 7, 2007 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI), is titled "Prospective Study of Serum Vitamin D and Cancer Mortality in the United States." This important article disclosed that women who had a vitamin D level greater than 80 nmol/L reduced their risk of dying from breast cancer by 72 percent.
Taken together, these two articles show that both the incidence and mortality of breast cancer could be reduced by approximately 70 percent if a low level of vitamin D (75-80 nmol/L) is attained and maintained.
These impressive potential reductions in breast cancer incidence and mortality have inspired vitamin D researchers to universally recommend that women attain and maintain vitamin D levels greater than 120 nmol/ L year-round. In addition, several recent studies hold out the promise that attaining and maintaining a level greater than 120 nmol/L of vitamin D year-round might reduce both the incidence and mortality of breast cancer by at least 80 percent.
Unfortunately for women and the small number of men who develop breast cancer, the American medical system is focused on diagnosing and treating breast cancer rather than preventing this dreaded disease because of the financial returns from the former (diagnosing and treating breast cancer) as compared to the latter (preventing breast cancer).
So how can the United States turn an 80-percent potential reduction of breast cancer incidence and mortality into an 80-percent actual reduction? We recommend the immediate implementation of a multi-center prospective clinical trial that would compare women who received no vitamin D supplementation and/or more than "incidental" UVR exposure with women who a) would take a 1,000 IU vitamin D supplement each day; b) would take a 2,000 IU vitamin D supplement each day; c) were exposed to a controlled dose of UVR, sufficient to allow them to attain and maintain a level of 25(OH)D greater than 120 nmol/L; and d) received both 1,000 IU and 2,000 IU of supplementary vitamin D as well as a controlled dose of UVR sufficient to allow them to attain and maintain a level of 25(OH)D greater than 120 nmol/L.
This would make it possible-for the first time- to determine whether women who attained and maintained a level of vitamin D greater than 120 nmol/L year-round experience less breast cancer incidence and mortality than the control group and to determine whether "normal and natural" vitamin D from UVR photosynthesis in the skin is superior or inferior to the supplementary form.
The stakes are high and the United States must take immediate steps to reduce the incidence of death from breast cancer.There is nothing to lose by implementing the study outlined above-but there is the potential for tremendous gain in the form of an 80-percent reduction of breast cancer incidence and mortality. This reduction would be highly significant in the battle against this disease.
Every person who sincerely cares about the women and men in their life must quit being apathetic and contact their local, state and federal representatives to request that they support vitamin D clinical trials.
The "collective message" to our elected representatives must be it is time-past time, actually-to focus on the prevention of breast cancer because what we are doing today (diagnosing and treating breast cancer) is not working. Reducing the incidence of breast cancer from the current level of 178,480 new cases to 36,000 new cases and the fatalities from 40,460 to 8,000 should be their highest priority.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with breast cancer, don't despair-several recent articles, including "Breast Cancer Research and Treatment" by Porojnica, et al, have revealed that the "survival time after diagnosis" of women being treated for breast cancer significantly improved in the individuals with the highest vitamin D-25(OH)D- blood levels as compared to the individuals with the lowest vitamin D levels. Note: In fact, the survival time in all forms of cancer is increased in individuals with the highest levels of vitamin D.
The bottom line is that it makes good sense to attain and maintain an optimal vitamin D level-greater than 120 nmol/L-year-round, so the only question remaining is: What is the best way to do so? The answer is simple and inexpensive. Women of childbearing age and older should a) take a 1,000 IU or 2,000 IU vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplement each day, and b) follow the advice of John Cannell, M.D. of the Vitamin D Council who recently said to"... go to a suntanning booth every day and obtain and keep a dark, full-body tan" in order to attain and maintain an optimal blood level of vitamin D year-round.
Please send a copy of this article to your local media outlets and ask them to lend their influence in getting clinical trials implemented. Patricia E. Reykdal owns and operates four tanning salons in Tucson, Ariz. Her husband, Donald L. Smith, is director of research of the Non-Ionizing Radiation Research Institute. Together, they have written more than 250 articles promoting sensible, moderate and responsible exposure to ultraviolet radiation.Patricia E. Reykdal & Donald L. Smith