Vitamin D, otherwise known as the Sunshine Vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is probably best known for the role it plays in supporting your immune system, and helping to build strong bones and teeth. But did you also know, that it can be an essential component of a cancer prevention? Keep reading to discover how it can be used as a powerful healing tool, for anyone who is facing a cancer diagnosis.
The Anti-Cancer Power of Vitamin D
It’s really not a mystery as to why it’s such a potent anti-cancer tool. In fact, this humble little vitamin fights cancer in a number of different ways. It can make tumours shrink and cancerous cells simply shut down.
One of the ways it can suppress cancer cells, is by switching certain genes on or off that are causing cells to start replicating in the first place. By suppressing or activating the right genes, vitamin D can turn dangerous. Multiplying the cancerous cells into normal and healthy cells.
In addition, it can even tell a cancer cell to self-destruct, or what is called apoptosis in the medical world. Tumours have vitamin D receptors attached to them.
Vitamin D Improves Outcomes for Cancer Patients
And the benefits of this wonderful vitamin for cancer, isn’t just a theory. Countless studies are demonstrating just how powerful this vitamin is for a number of cancers, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer.
The research that’s been done on breast cancer and vitamin D is pretty striking. In fact, Carole Baggerly from Grassroots Health has stated that up to 90% of breast cancer could be related to a vitamin D deficiency! And a study from The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has shown that breast cancer incidence can be reduced by 50% simply by supplementing with 2000 IU per day and getting moderate sunlight exposure.
In terms of cancer prevention, it’s obvious that getting your vitamin D levels checked is a good strategy. But what if you already have breast cancer? Is there still a benefit to getting enough vitamin D? Definitely. In fact, breast cancer patients are 2x more likely to survive if they have high vitamin D levels in their bloodstream.
Also, it has been shown to slow and reverse prostate cancer. As you may remember, vitamin D can tell cancerous cells to die, but cancerous prostate cells lose their ability to use vitamin D correctly. At the same time, men with prostate cancer tend to have lower levels. However, by supplementing with vitamin D when you have prostate cancer, you can slow the growth of cancerous cells.
Having adequate levels can also help improve survival outcomes for patients with early-stage lung cancer, by helping them survive longer after surgery. Amazingly, simply having lung cancer surgery in the summer, when patients are more likely to be exposed to sunlight, were more than twice as likely to be alive five years later. This is compared to people who had surgery during the winter.
How Do I Know If I’m Getting Enough Vitamin D?
Considering how important it is, would you be surprised to discover that approximately 70% of the population is deficient in this crucial nutrient? For most people, a few minutes of sun exposure will be enough to supply the body with the raw materials needed to make vitamin D. However, certain factors can make you more or less susceptible to a deficiency.
- Age: Levels naturally decrease with age, so you may need to consider supplementation as you get older and your body becomes less efficient as making vitamin D.
- Where You Live: People who live in more northern climates are more likely to experience inadequate sunlight exposure, especially during the wintertime.
- Diet: People who follow vegetarian and vegan diets won’t be consuming vitamin D found in fish, liver, and eggs unless they are eating fortified foods.
- Skin Colour: The darker your skin is, the more time you’ll need to spend in the sun to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D.
Luckily, there are a number of easy ways you can increase your levels. This includes spending enough time in the sun, eating vitamin D-rich foods, or supplementing where necessary.
What you need to remember is that this vitamin is essential for preventing and fighting cancer. Any good anti-cancer strategy should include getting your levels checked and supplementing if you do discover that you’re deficient!