Monday, December 15, 2008

Critical vitamin D deficiency and critically poor health among African Americans: Part 1

Why do African Americans suffer more from heart disease, cancer, hypertension, diabetes and other degenerative diseases than white Americans? One reason is that vitamin D deficiency is far more common in blacks.

In my book, I documented the relationship of vitamin D deficiency to dramatically increased risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and numerous other diseases and conditions--105 in all. If dark-skinned Americans are more likely to be deficient, it stands to reason that they would be more likely to succumb to those diseases.
Here are some interesting facts that relate vitamin D deficiency to poor health in black Americans:

1. When USA white and black women are compared for vitamin D levels, black women are ten times more likely to be vitamin D deficient.[1]

2. In patients in Minneapolis, Minnesota who were being treated for chronic pain, 100% of African Americans, along with Native Americans, East Africans and Hispanics were vitamin D deficient.[2]

3. Vitamin D is known to be a potent inhibitor of tuberculosis. African Americans have lower resistance to tuberculosis, lower levels of D and lower ability to produce cathelicidin, a natural internal bactericide.[3]

4. A 37-year-old disabled Black woman with myopathy (a muscle disease) and severe vitamin D deficiency was able to leave her wheelchair and function normally after six weeks of vitamin D therapy.[4]

5. Vitamin D deficiency leads to increased death from the major internal cancers, and a disproportionate number of those cancer deaths occur in African Americans.[5] Dr. William Grant, in summarizing the findings of his study on African Americans and cancer, wrote that “Solar UVB was found significantly inversely correlated with mortality rates for breast, colon, esophageal, gastric and rectal cancers for black Americans.” Other research in 2008 corroborated his findings, showing that in the Southeast USA, vitamin D deficiency is about four times more common in African Americans as whites, suggesting that the greater cancer risks among African Americans is due to that deficiency.[6]

Shortly I will post another blog citing research that further establishes vitamin D deficiency as a likely culprit in the poor health of dark-skinned Americans.

[1] Nesby-O’Dell, S. et al. Hypovitaminosis D prevalence and determinants among African American and white women of reproductive age: third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76:187-92.
[2] Plotnikoff G. et al. Prevalence of severe hypovitaminosis D in patients with persistent, nonspecific musculoskeletal pain. Mayo Clin Proc. 2003;78:1463-70.
[3] Liu, P. et al. Toll-like receptor triggering of a vitamin D-mediated human antimicrobial response. Science. 2006;311:1770-73.
[4] Prabhala, A. et al. Severe myopathy associated with vitamin D deficiency in western New York. Arch Intern Med 2000;160:1199-1203.
[5] Grant, W. Lower vitamin-D production from solar ultraviolet-B irradiance may explain some differences in cancer survival rates. JNMA 2006;98:364
[6] Egan, K. et al. Vitamin D insufficiency among African Americans in the southeastern United States: implications for cancer disparities (United States). Cancer Causes Control 2008;19:527-35.

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