Dropping the ‘D’ Bomb

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Dropping ‘D’ Bomb On Cancer

by Bill Sardi by Bill Sardi

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Cancer is part of America… This week many Americans will be busy fighting cancer, holding bowling marathons and running races to raise money for cancer research. Americans receive advice on how to prevent cancer, to stop smoking, eat more vegetables and fruits, stay out of the sun. May is skin cancer awareness month, so Americans will be reminded of the potentially harmful effects of the sun. These Americans are unaware of the bomb that is ready to drop on the cancer world… the first direct scientific evidence that cancer can be defeated in a major way.

A knife is ready to be thrust through the heart of this most dreaded disease. The heralded antidote will not be a pricey cancer drug, but rather a 10-cent cure. Here is how the Globe & Mail described the upcoming breakthrough:

But perhaps the biggest bombshell …. is about to go off. In June, U.S. researchers will announce the first direct link between cancer prevention. Their results are nothing short of astounding.

A four-year clinical trial involving 1,200 women found those taking vitamin D pills had about a 60-per-cent reduction in cancer incidence, compared with those who didn’t take it, a drop so large — twice the impact on cancer attributed to smoking — it almost looks like a typographical error.

And in an era of pricey medical advances, the reduction seems even more remarkable because it was achieved with an over-the-counter supplement costing pennies a day. [Martin Mittelstaedt, Vitamin D casts cancer prevention in new light. Globe & Mail, April 28, 2007]

Prior evidence that vitamin D prevents cancer has been gleaned from population studies which indirectly show sunny areas of the U.S. have lower cancer rates. Because there are so many factors involved in cancer, it has been difficult to identify vitamin D as the sole factor responsible for lower rates of cancer in certain geographical areas. That is, till now.

Sunshine in a bottle, vitamin D pills, are about to do more to defeat cancer than any pricey cancer drug or other measure to prevent cancer. Recognize the National Cancer Institute’s 5-A-Day program to encourage consumption of five servings of plant foods a day has been a failure in reducing cancer rates. So has the advice to say out of the sun.

Advice to avoid sun exposure has been misguided information “of just breathtaking proportions,” says Dr. John Cannell, head of the Vitamin D Council, a non-profit, California-based organization. “Fifteen hundred Americans die every year from skin cancers. Fifteen hundred Americans die every day from the serious cancers.”

Skin cancer mortality rates didn’t rise steeply till 1971 when Americans were advised to use sunscreen lotions that blocked the vitamin D—producing UV-B sun rays. This permitted the deep penetrating UV-A sun rays to attack the skin without the protection of vitamin D. Only recently have researchers conceded that UV-A rays cause skin cancer. [Oncogene 25(26): 3680—8. June 22, 2006]

As for the idea that environmental pollutants cause cancer, Reinhold Vieth, professor at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and one of the world’s top vitamin D experts, says those who try to brand contaminants as the key factor behind cancer in the West are “looking for a bogeyman that doesn’t exist.” Instead, he says, the critical factor “is more likely a lack of vitamin D.”

Dieticians, physicians and pharmacists have been inaccurately trained to warn the public away from higher-dose vitamin D pills for unfounded fears of side effects. The National Academy of Science says 2000 IU (international units) is the safe upper limit. But to show how ridiculous this limit is, an hour of total body summer sun exposure at a southern latitude produces about 10,000 IU of natural vitamin D in the skin without side effect. Somebody has been pulling the wool over the public’s eyes on this issue for a long time.

Dieticians will be quick to advise increased consumption of vitamin D-rich foods. But to achieve the vitamin D doses used for cancer prevention through foods, people would need to drink about three quarts of milk a day, which is impractical. Most multivitamins provide only 400 IU of vitamin D.

Researchers at the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco report that 1000 IU of vitamin D daily would significantly reduce cancer rates throughout Europe and North America. Provision of 1000 IU of vitamin D in fortified foods would cost about $1 billion but produce cost savings of about $16—25 billion. [Recent Results Cancer Research 174: 225—34, 2007]

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is strangely silent on the growing body of scientific studies that now show vitamin D is a major weapon against cancer. Instead, the NCI continues to promote expensive and unproven technologies, like nanoparticles, to fight cancer. The most advanced cancer drugs cost up to $50,000 a year and only add a few months of life to terminal cancer patients.

Will oncologists begin to prescribe vitamin D pills for their patients who face recurrence of tumors after conventional treatment? Will family doctors begin to suggest vitamin D pills for their patients with a family history of cancer? Will dermatologists "see the light" and begin to recommend vitamin D pills instead of continuing to spread misinformation to totally avoid the sun? This is unlikely. Doctors have been trained to treat rather than prevent. Insurance payments reward treatment, not prevention. Modern medicine is not a culture that is geared to rapid change, nor towards true preventive medicine. It took decades for doctors to be convinced that hand washing in hospitals would save lives.

With low levels of vitamin D now linked with a long list of diseases, including autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Crohn’s disease), high blood pressure, diabetes, infectious disease (tuberculosis, influenza, common cold), and obesity, it becomes difficult to predict the actual level of remaining chronic disease in a vitamin D-sufficient population. With food fortification of vitamin D would the medical industry be prepared for massive downsizing?

The natural form of vitamin D (vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol) is preferred over the synthetic form (vitamin D2, ergocalciferol). Researchers assert that vitamin D2 "should not be regarded as a nutrient suitable for supplementation or fortification." [American Journal Clinical Nutrition 84 (4): 694—7, October 2006].

Bill Sardi [send him mail] is a consumer advocate and health journalist, writing from San Dimas, California. He offers a free downloadable book, The Collapse of Conventional Medicine, at his website. Bill Sardi is a spokesperson for various dietary supplement companies.

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