Health Blogs | Cancer | Colon Cancer

Vitamin D Improves Cancer Survival

May 14th, 2012 by Dr. Robert Wascher



New research shows that higher levels of Vitamin D in the blood increase survival among colorectal cancer patients.


VITAMIN D IMPROVES CANCER SURVIVAL

As I discuss in my bestselling book,A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, there is a large body of research evidence available to suggest that low Vitamin D levels may be associated with a higher risk of developing cancer. However, the vast majority of published Vitamin D research has been focused on the use of Vitamin D toprevent cancer, while there is almost no data available linking Vitamin D levels in the blood with survival ratesafter a person has been diagnosed with cancer. Now, a newly published prospective clinical research study, which appears in the current issue ofCancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, suggests that low Vitamin D levels in the blood of patients undergoing treatment for colorectal cancer may, in fact, be associated with poorer survival when compared to patients with higher blood levels of this hormone-like vitamin.

This new study was part of the large and ongoing European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Altogether, 1,202 EPIC study volunteers were diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1992 and 2003. As with all EPIC study volunteers, Vitamin D levels in the blood were checked when each participant joined the study. Additionally, extensive dietary, lifestyle and medical history information was obtained from each study volunteer.

Among these 1,202 EPIC study volunteers who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, 541 died during an average study observation period of 73 months, and 444 of these deaths were directly caused by colorectal cancer. The findings of this study were highly significant, and strongly suggest that higher levels of Vitamin D in the blood, prior to the onset of cancer, are associated with better survival in patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer. When comparing patients who had the highest Vitamin D levels with the patients who had the lowest levels, the patients with the highest Vitamin D levels were 31 percentlesslikely to die specifically from colorectal cancer, and 33 percentless likely to die from any cause. Similarly, increased calcium intake prior to being diagnosed with colorectal cancer also appeared to reduce the risk of death due to colon or rectal cancer. (Like Vitamin D, increased calcium intake has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer.)

These new findings from the landmark prospective EPIC public health study are highly significant, in my view, as they are among the first data available to show that, in addition to its known cancer prevention activity (as I discuss in detail inA Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race), higher levels of Vitamin D in the blood may also reduce the risk of dying in patients who develop colorectal cancer. (I should note that I have also been studying potential links between Vitamin D levels in the blood and survival in patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and I expect to report our institutions findings within the next 12 months.)

As always, I strongly recommend that you check with your physician before initiating any new dietary supplements, including Vitamin D, as excessive intake of this hormone-vitamin can lead to kidney injury, GI tract ulcers, calcifications throughout the body, and other serious health complications.

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, fromAmazon,Barnes & Noble,Books-A-Million,Vromans Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication,A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on theAmazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on theAmazon.com “Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.



Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr.Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


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