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VITAMIN D UPDATE  dd-vitamind.jpg



 by Patrick Moore, N.D., M.S.

January, 2013

I was not aware of the relationship between vitamin D and cancer prevention until I read an article published in the October, 2007 edition of Life Extension Magazine by editor-in-chief, William Faloon.  Faloon reviewed the first scientific study published in 1941 showing that greater sunlight exposure resulted in lower cancer mortality. The study showed that people living in northern latitudes with less sun exposure contracted more cancers than people living in southern latitudes where the sun shines year-round. Researchers identified vitamin D produced from sunlight exposure as the main cancer-protective factor in the study.  Subsequent scientific studies have shown cancer-risk reductions of up to 50% and beyond based on the higher level of a person’s vitamin D lab status.  However, what really excited Faloon was a new study published in the June, 2007 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study was the first placebo-controlled, double-blind (“gold standard”) study that “specifically measured the effects of higher-dose vitamin D (with calcium) on cancer incidence.” The study evaluated 1,180 postmenopausal women living in the mid-west (USA). Over a four year period, the women in the non-placebo arm of the study were given 1000iu/day of vitamin D along with calcium.  Adherence to the regimen was tightly controlled and monitored. The results?  After four years, the risk of contracting “any” cancer was 60% lower in the vitamin D group. The researchers then performed a more detailed analysis of the data. When they excluded cancers diagnosed in the first year of the study (which would have included cancers present when the participants first started taking vitamin D), they found an amazing 77% reduction in cancer incidence in the group receiving vitamin D compared to the placebo group!

Over the past few years, vitamin D scientists have discovered that vitamin D (the “sunshine Hormone”) controls between 2,000 – 3,000 of our genes. Some of these genes are directly responsible for controlling cellular processes that contribute or prevent cancer cells from taking root. Specifically, three mechanisms that vitamin D influences are Apoptosis, Differentiation, and Proliferation.  Further, vitamin D  plays a key role in regulating our immune system by keeping it strong (producing over 200 anti-microbial peptides) and keeping it from over-reacting, thereby preventing excess inflammation.  Much of this research remains in the confines of a narrow spectrum of the  scientific community. It has not translated in a noticeable manner amongst cancer clinicians. At least in the USA. There is no profit-incentive to promote a non-patentable substance that is cheap and accessible to all. No money to be made. And no “sunshine salesmen” knocking on doctor’s doors offering “free” samples.  However, we can all educate ourselves and learn about this remarkable nutrient that is produced from the sun and keeps all of earth in fruitful balance. And realize that research shows that most Americans have deficient or insufficient levels of vitamin D circulating in their bloodstream. This is especially true since our modern, technology-oriented society works primarily indoors and has been mindlessly taught to fear the sun.  We should look at the sun/vitamin D as a medicine to be used wisely and  therapeutically. All of our ancestors were well aware of the healing powers of the sun. Two Noble prizes for medicine were awarded to health professionals  who effected many health cures over 100 years ago ( Niels Finsen – 1903/Robert Koch – 1905) using sun/light therapy. Their insights have been recently resurrected in Great Britain and put into clinical use with the application of vitamin D to treat Tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS with excellent results. Vitamin D is a powerful immune booster and its deficiency  in the winter is, in my opinion, the primary reason we have a Flu /cold season.

I have included a summary of just a few studies recently released regarding cancer and vitamin D that will remain known to only a handful of scientists and researchers across the world. You, the reader, will join the select few. If you are not interested in cancer, every person knows someone affected by cancer. Do them a favor. Pass on this information.  Cancer has many causes and vitamin D is by no means a cure-all or all-preventive. However, failure to understand its importance might be hazardous to your health and lifespan.


  • McGill University (Montreal) scientists John White and David Goltzman have been studying vitamin D for almost 20 years. In fact, their lab is credited for discovering that vitamin D deficiency contributes to Crohn’s disease, an auto-immune disease and painful inflammatory bowel condition (my clinical observations are that all auto-immune diseases have a vitamin D deficiency relationship). Over 10 years ago, their research demonstrated that vitamin D curbs malignant cancer cells, including breast and prostate cells. Now, they have discovered a molecular basis for the cancer preventive affects of vitamin D as published in the November, 2012 issue of the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” The scientists discovered that the vitamin D receptor is a “master regulator” in a vast network implicated in cancer cell growth and plays a significant role in slowing the progression of cells from precancerous to malignant states. White states, “We showed that if you put vitamin D on certain cancer cells, they would stop proliferating, they would stop going through the process of cell division, or they would do it much more slowly.” White’s research team focused on a protein called cMYC. This protein is believed to be a vital cog in the process that drives cell division. And cancer, at its core, is fundamentally uncontrolled cell division. White stated that, “Not surprisingly, the function of cMYC is elevated in at least 50% of all cancers. We have found that vitamin D puts the brake on cMYC function and it does it by several mechanisms to keep things in check by controlling the protein’s production and accelerating its rate of turnover or destruction.”  His   research team also found that vitamin D strongly stimulates  the production of a natural antagonist of cMYC known as MXD1, which shuts down cMYC function. “Together, it’s a dramatIc reduction of the protein in the cell,” White said.
  • A study conducted by researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School has linked an increase in blood levels of vitamin D to a decrease in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by an impressive 30%.  Lead researcher Brian Wolpin stated, “In light of the high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in the population, further studies should examine whether increasing vitamin D levels impacts the incidence of this highly lethal malignancy.” The study was published in the November, 2012 edition of “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention.”
  • As reported in “Natural News,” researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington D. C. at a conference of the “American Association for Cancer Research” recently presented evidence of a connection between high vitamin D intake and reduced risk of breast cancer. Their research showed that increased doses of the sunshine hormone, vitamin D, were linked to a 75% reduction in overall cancer growth and 50% reduction in tumor cases amongst those already having the disease. The researchers were especially interested in the capacity of vitamin D to help control the development and growth of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells.
  • A November, 2012 study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be a primary cause of breast cancer or at a minimum, it plays a crucial role in the carcinogenesis of the breast or development of the disease. The study was conducted by the Department of Medical Oncology, Shavkat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center in Lahore, Pakistan. The case-controlled study found almost all breast cancer patients were vitamin D deficient.  In commenting on this study, two noted cancer researchers, Ashraf Karbasi and Amin Saburi from Baqiyatallah University in Tehran, Iran, cited previous studies that confirm the association between lower serum levels of vitamin D with a higher risk of developing breast cancer and dying from the disease.  They went on to mention that vitamin D’s anti-cancer affect has much to do with its natural immune system enhancements.
  • In the January 17, 2013 edition of “The Journal of Cell Biology,” two important breakthrough discoveries have been made regarding one of the most treacherous, aggressive,  and difficult forms of breast cancer to treat. Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. It generally strikes younger women and is virtually resistant to any form of chemotherapy,  although the medical profession will use it anyway, despite the serious side effects, immune suppression effects, and lack of evidence of any therapeutic benefit. They have nothing else to offer.  Dr. Susana Ganzalo, Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at St. Louis University in Lleida, Spain,  working with the Institute of Biomedical Research, discovered the unique pathway this form of breast cancer uses to activate the growth of tumor cells that go unchecked and are resistant to conventional therapies. Remarkably, the second discovery was that vitamin D was found to play a crucial role in turning off this pathway!  In a press statement, the researchers stated they are hopeful that in the future, women with triple-negative breast cancer may benefit from a treatment that includes vitamin D.   I say, the future is now!  Why wait?  This study was funded in part by a $500,000 Department of Defense grant. 
  • Two other studies recently published on breast cancer deserve a brief mention. As reported in “Natural News,” a recent study conducted by scientists at the German Cancer Research Center in collaboration with researchers of the University Hospitals in Hamburg-Eppendorf and published in the journal “Carcinogenesis,” found that women with low blood levels of vitamin D clearly had a substantially increased risk of breast cancer. Natural News had previously reported on another related study from the University of Rochester Medical Center which found that the vast majority of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer had very low levels of vitamin D in their blood. And women whose disease had progressed to late-stage (terminal) had the lowest levels of all.
  • A study conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France and published in the December, 2012  issue of “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention” found that patients with colorectal cancer  in the highest quintile of prediagnostic vitamin D had a 33% reduced risk of dying from colorectal cancer and all causes compared to those in the lowest quintile. Researchers also stated that previous studies have already demonstrated that people with higher serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels are less likely to develop colorectal cancer. The researchers concluded, “High prediagnostic D levels are associated with improved survival of patients with colorectal cancer.”
  • A recent study conducted by the Spanish Cancer Research Center and published in the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute” determined that low levels of vitamin D3 doubles the risk of developing bladder cancer. Further, separating patients with more aggressive bladder cancers revealed that risks are 600% higher with low D3 blood levels.
  • In a study  published in the December, 2012 edition of “The Journal of Orthopedic Research,” Kansas University researchers found that vitamin D can cause cancerous bone cells to turn to normal bone cells. Lead researcher and orthopedic surgeon Kim Templeton, set out to find if bone tumors recognize vitamin D and if “D” would help control the growth of cancerous cells. In laboratory tests, Dr. Templeton found that not only did the cancerous cells recognize the vitamin D, but the “D” prevented the osteosarcoma cells from replicating as quickly and promoted the growth of normal bone cells. These results have important implications for patients suffering with Osteosarcoma. Conventional treatment methods and survival rates have remained stagnant for over a quarter of a century.
  • It is well established that it’s common for cancer patients to have lower levels of vitamin D than the general populace.  And it has been reported that lower vitamin D levels are correlated with reduced survival rates of cancer patients.  Now, as reported by oncologists at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the strongest risk factor for patient vitamin D deficiency was/is the use of chemotherapy drugs. They found that patients on chemo were 400% more likely to show severely depressed levels of vitamin D.  Chemotherapy depletes the body of this key nutrient  the body needs to keep the immune system strong.  It’s likely that chemotherapy reduces a persons ability to utilize supplemental vitamin D. This is why lab levels of D are important to track. Cancer patients should maintain a 25hydroxy vitamin D level of between 50ng/ml – 100ng/ml - according to the most learned and experienced vitamin D scientists  in the world. Most labs outside the USA and Canada use a different measurement system. They use nmol instead of ng. So to make an equivalent ratio, multiply by 2.5. So,  if a USA ng range for D were to be 50-100ng/ml the number outside the USA using n/mol should be 125-250.  To complicate matters even further, different hospitals and labs are using different ranges of normalcy for vitamin D. The most learned D scientists in the USA use a  range of 30-100ng/ml as normal. They use labs that use that same range. A holistic hospital like Griffin in Derby, Ct maintains this lab range. Yale-New Haven, in my opinion, has gone medieval. They have reverted to a normal range of 20ng – 50ng/ml. What a disaster!  This is in response to an Institute of Medicine study released in 2012 that recommended this range. One huge problem! They only looked at research regarding bone health. Not any other application for D. Their shallow analysis has been roundly condemned by every D scientist  and medical D expert including the great Walter Willet, M.D., Director of Harvard Medical School’s Nutrition and Public Health Department.  In summary, everyone should monitor their vitamin D levels and learn what dosage is appropriate to keep their D levels in a therapeutic range of 50-80ng/ml. Everyone requires a different dose based on a multitude of factors. I’ve learned that for me, a daily dosage of 5,000iu keeps my level between the target range of 50-80. I take less in the summer and sometimes none at all if I have natural sun exposure and develop a therapeutic tan. Some scientists recommend using a formula of 35iu per lb. of body weight. So if you weighed 100lbs, one would take 3500iu/day. One last point on vitamin D. I am often asked if vitamin D can be toxic. Sure! But I’ve never experienced it. I know of a few cases in the medical literature but it is truly a rarity. In the last few years, I’ve asked this question to every nurse or health care practitioner I’ve encountered. I am now up to 52,000 years of clinical experience years with no practitioner ever coming across toxicity or even  hearing of a case.  We are in the midst of a vitamin D deficiency epidemic and to worry about toxicity is like a farmer worrying about too much of a heavy rainfall 9 months into a drought.

Further information on vitamin D can be obtained from the  Dr. John Cannell runs this organization and it contains a wealth of information on D research. He has also written a book called “The Athletes Edge.”  Excellent research on how vitamin D can strengthen oneself and promote optimal health.  Another source for  information on D is

Two of my favorite books on cancer treatment are Dr. Patrick Quillan’s book, “Beating Cancer with Nutrition,” and Suzanne Somers book, “Knockout.”  Both books provide complementary information to help broaden  any treatment plan and provide a list of holistic practitioners.

One last item of importance regarding cancer and chemotherapy.  We’ve known that in many cases, chemotherapy can be initially beneficial and help promote tumor regression.  But then in many cases,  cancer tumors grow back even more aggressively and become resistant to chemotherapy and metastasize with devastating consequences.  Now we may know why!  In a shocking new study recently released by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, scientists discovered that healthy cells damaged by chemotherapy secreted more of a protein called WNT16B which boosts cancer survival!  “The increase in WNT16B was completely unexpected,” said Peter Nelson, scientist and co-author of the study. The study suggests that in many cases, chemotherapy may actually make cancer worse. Nelson added, “WNT16B, when secreted, would interact with nearby tumor cells and cause them to grow, invade, and importantly, resist subsequent therapy.”  The study found that chemo drugs caused DNA damage which made fibroblasts (cells) pump out 30 times more of the WNT16B protein, acting like a tumor growth accelerant. The study team examined cancer cells from prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer patients. The study team concluded: “Our results indicate that damage responses in benign cells…..may directly contribute to enhanced tumor kinetics.”  Commenting on this study which was published in “Nature Medicine,” Mike Adams, editor of Natural News stated, “In essence, chemotherapy turns healthy cells into WNT16B factories which churn out this “activator” chemical that accelerates cancer tumor growth.”  - My comment:  It’s stunning  what miniscule attention this remarkable study garnered. We do know that chemotherapy is the most profitable drug on earth.   Could that be a reason why this study is not being discussed more publicly?  Whose interest does it serve to shove this study under the rug?   What do you think? Regardless, chemotherapy has its place for certain cancers.  The source I trust most for up-to-date reports on Cancer therapies for specific cancers is Dr. Ralph Moss,  a former director  of Public Relations at Sloan Kettering.  He has published many books on Cancer including, “Questioning Chemotherapy.” I recommend his reports.  And I would not neglect keeping your vitamin D levels at a very healthful level. Your comments are welcome!

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