On his blog, Mercola.com, Dr. Joseph Mercola discusses, “A 2023 systematic review and meta-analysis published in Ageing Research Reviews found vitamin D3 supplementation reduced cancer mortality by 6%. This wasn’t considered statistically significant, but when only studies involving daily vitamin D intake were analyzed, cancer mortality dropped by a significant 12%.” He writes:
On a typical sunny day, your body may produce up to 25,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D.1 Yet, in the U.S., the average daily recommended intake is only 600 IU for people between the ages of 1 and 70, and 800 IU for those over 70.2
These amounts are likely far too low for most people to optimize their vitamin D levels and take advantage of all the related health benefits — like a reduced risk of dying from cancer.3 The fact is, adequate daily sun exposure over a large portion of your skin is the best way to increase and maintain your vitamin D levels.
But many people either don’t get outdoors enough to achieve this, or live in areas where it’s too cold to comfortably do so for much of the year. While you should strive to get sensible sun exposure as much as possible, since it offers important benefits beyond vitamin D, research also shows that daily vitamin D supplementation is safe4 and significantly advantageous for your health.
Daily Vitamin D Lowers Cancer Mortality by 12%
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease.5 Yet, despite the fact that so many people are dying of this condition — and vitamin D could help — health officials rarely recommend vitamin D for cancer prevention or treatment.
A 2023 systematic review and meta-analysis published in Ageing Research Reviews found vitamin D3 supplementation reduced cancer mortality by 6%. This wasn’t considered statistically significant, but when only studies involving daily vitamin D intake were analyzed, cancer mortality dropped by a significant 12%.6 According to the researchers:7
“From a biological perspective, it is plausible that a sufficient vitamin D status has an impact on cancer prognosis: by binding to the vitamin D receptor (VDR), the active hormone 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D) influences signaling pathways that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and cell survival, and thus acts as an anti-proliferative agent in many tissues and can slow the growth of malignant cells.”
Meanwhile, risks of lung cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer and lymphoma are higher in people with low vitamin D levels, while having higher levels is associated with a better prognosis in cases of breast and colorectal cancers.8
The Ageing Research Reviews study further revealed that daily vitamin D supplementation was particularly beneficial for people aged 70 and over, as well as those who took vitamin D daily and were later diagnosed with cancer. Study author Ben Schöttker, Ph.D., with the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, explained:9
“This does imply that basically everyone aged 50 and older, including people who have never had cancer, might profit from vitamin D supplementation if they are vitamin D insufficient … Doctors cannot know who might develop cancer at a later time.
However, in Germany, the risk [of developing] cancer once in life is very high — 43% for women and 51% for men — and thus, the chance to treat someone who might profit from that in the future is quite high … the lifetime risk to develop cancer is comparable in most other industrialized countries.”
Many Studies Show Vitamin D Lowers Risk of Cancer Death
Other research also supports vitamin D’s role in protecting against cancer death. In one study of 25,871 patients, vitamin D supplementation was found to reduce the risk for metastatic cancer and death by 17%. The risk was reduced by as much as 38% among those who also maintained a healthy weight.10,11
What’s particularly noteworthy is this study only gave participants 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily and didn’t measure their blood levels. Despite these research flaws, a significant benefit was still found. However, other research has found even more striking benefits.
Take, for example, a GrassrootsHealth analysis published in June 2018 in PLOS ONE. It showed women with a vitamin D level at or above 60 ng/mL (150 nmol/L) had an 82% lower risk of breast cancer compared to those with levels below 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L).12
An earlier U.K. study found that having a vitamin D level above 60 ng/mL resulted in an 83% lower breast cancer risk,13,14 which is nearly identical to GrassrootsHealth’s 2018 analysis. Another meta-analysis looking at breast cancer reviewed 70 observational studies, finding that for each 2 ng/mL (5 nmol/L) increase in vitamin D level there was a corresponding 6% decrease in breast cancer incidence.15
Overall, this translates into a 71% reduced risk when you increase your vitamin D level from 20 ng/mL to 60 ng/mL (50 to 150 nmol/L).16 Similarly, a Canadian study showed that women who reported having the most sun exposure from ages 10 to 19 had a significantly reduced risk of developing breast cancer.17
Read more here.
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