Friday, January 4, 2008

How Does Vitamin D Prevent Cancer?

Note: The comments on this blog are for information only. Do not make any changes in sunlight exposure, tanning-bed exposure or nutritional habits without first consulting a medical professional.

We now know that vitamin D is strongly associated with decreased cancer risk. Harvard researchers have estimated that raising average blood levels of vitamin D by 10 ng/ml (a small amount) could yearly save 85,000 men from cancer death.1 Other researchers estimate that high vitamin D levels decrease risk of colon cancer by two-thirds,2 and a study released this June indicates that vitamin D supplementation reduces risk of cancer in women by 60%.3 UVB light of course, whether from sunlight or tanning beds, stimulates the skin to produce vast quantities of vitamin D, and though there is no panacea for cancer or any other disease, vitamin D is a close to it as we will ever come.

Vitamin D works its anti-cancer wonders in several ways:

  1. Promoting apoptosis. Old or abnormal cells must die and be replaced. Apoptosis is a programmed sequence of events that leads to the death of such cells. Without apoptosis, cells become “immortal;” they never die off; they multiply and become cancerous. Vitamin D promotes apoptosis.4

  2. Promoting differentiation. Differentiation is the process by which cells take on characteristics of surrounding tissue. In other words, they become a specific type of tissue, such as breast tissue or bone tissue. Cancer cells do not differentiate; they exhibit out-of-control growth (proliferation) and do not resemble cells in the surrounding tissue. Vitamin D helps cancer cells to differentiate and become like the normal cells of surrounding tissue.5

  3. Retarding proliferation. Proliferation is the multiplication of cancer cells as described above. If proliferation is stopped, then cancer is stopped. Vitamin D retards proliferation.6

  4. Inhibiting angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels into cancer cells—a process necessary to keep them growing. If angiogenesis is stopped, cancer cells cannot receive nutrients and will die. Vitamin D retards the growth of new, undesirable, “feeder” vessels, thereby slowing cancer growth.7

  5. Slowing invasiveness. Invasiveness is the spreading of cancer into healthy tissue. Vitamin D inhibits the invasiveness of cancer cells, which restricts the cancer to a smaller area.8

  6. Inhibiting metastasis. Metastasis is the spreading of cancer cells from the initial location of disease to another location, usually by way of the blood or lymph. Vitamin D inhibits metastasis of cancer cells, which renders them less dangerous.9

The conclusion: UVB and its product, vitamin D, are the greatest cancer-prevention therapies known to mankind.


  1. Giovannucci, E. et al. J Natl Cancer Inst 2006;98:451-59.
  2. Gorham, E. et al. Am J Prev Med. 2007;32:210-6.
  3. Heaney, R. et al. Material to be published in June. Miller, E. et al. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 2005;14: 525-28.
  4. Miller, E. et al. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 2005;14: 525-28.
  5. Miyaura, C. et al. Biochem Biophys Res Comm 1981;102:937.
  6. Holt, P. et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2002;11:113-9.
  7. Nakagawa, K. et al. Carcinogenesis 2005;26:1044-54.
  8. Bao, B. et al. Carcinogenesis 2006;27:32-42.
  9. Nakagawa, K. et al. Carcinogenesis 2005;26:1044-54.

1 comment:

madelaine said...

This analysis revealed that compared to placebo, calcium supplementation alone did not reduce risk of cancer. However, calcium coupled with vitamin D did. Risk of cancer was reduced by 77 percent.

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