Vitamin D casts cancer prevention in new light

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Mon, 30 Apr 2007 10:46:30 GMT  <== Science/Technology ==> 

Martin Mittelstaedt at The Globe & Mail - Vitamin D deficiency may be the primary reason that cancert rates in rich northern countries are so much higher than elsewhere. Bottom line: don't be afraid of the sun. Get 15 minutes in bright sunshine every day, with as much exposed skin as you can muster. [slashdot]

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

A four-year clinical trial involving 1,200 women found those taking the vitamin 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.


Those studying the vitamin say the hide-from-sunlight advice has amounted to the health equivalent of a foolish poker trade. Anyone practising sun avoidance has traded the benefit of a reduced risk of skin cancer -- which is easy to detect and treat and seldom fatal -- for an increased risk of the scary, high-body-count cancers, such as breast, prostate and colon, that appear linked to vitamin D shortages.

The sun advice has been misguided information "of just breathtaking proportions," said 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."

Add comment Edit post Add post