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Vitamin D cuts colorectal cancer risk, helps survival

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By David Liu, PHD

Friday Oct 26, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Maintaining a sufficient serum vitamin D level likely helps prevent colorectal cancer and increase odds of survival from the disease, according to an report published on October 12, 2012 in Anticancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry.

Dr. Edward Giovannucci,  Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology of Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA says in his report that as early as in 1980, Drs. Frank C. Garland and Cedric F. Garland of the University of California at San Diego first proposed that better vitamin D status can lower risk of colorectal cancer.  

The idea prompted epidemiologists and vitamin d researchers worldwide to conduct all sorts of studies to examine the relation between vitamin D status and risk of colorectal cancer.    As a result, all types of measurements of vitamin D including circulating 25(OH)vitamin D levels, vitamin D metabolites or surrogates or determinants including residence location, intake, sun exposure, or a combination of any of these were found to be associated with colorectal adenoma and colorectal cancer incidence and mortality.

Results from all sorts of studies have shown a solid association between better vitamin D status and reduced risk of colorectal cancer.  A better vitamin D status was generally correlated with not only lower prevalence of colorectal cancer, but also reduced risk of dying from the disease.

The evidence strongly suggests that the association between vitamin D and risk of colorectal cancer is a causal relation, that is, vitamin D helps prevent colorectal cancer and reduce death risk from colorectal cancer.

Dr. Giovannucci concluded "improving vitamin D status could be potentially beneficial against colorectal cancer incidence and mortality."

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with more than 100 health conditions including 17 types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and depression among others, according to the Vitamin D Council.

Vitamin D is found in only a few foods like cold water oily fish like salmon.   Frequent exposure to sun rays is the most important way for humans to get sufficient vitamin D.  Use of sunscreens, working indoors, and lack of outdoor activity all can contribute to the development of vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is available as a dietary supplement.  Pure vitamin D supplements with only some edible oil such as D drops or vitamin D drops, but without any other additives are highly recommended for those who are not exposed to the sun often, particularly in Winter.  To prevent diseases like colorectal cancer, high doses of vitamin D are needed.

Colorectal cancer is diagnosed in more than 100,000 men and women each year in the United States and the disease kills tens of thousands each year in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute.

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