Vitamin D therapy
Treating cancer with Vitamin D
Vitamin D (also referred to as “calciferol”) is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in a few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.
Source: US Office of Dietary Supplements
This study says: Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a small subset of cells that may be responsible for initiation, progression and recurrence of tumors. Recent studies have demonstrated that CSCs are highly tumorigenic and resistant to conventional chemotherapies, making them a promising target for the development of preventive/therapeutic agents.
Vitamin D and its analogs have inhibitory effects on cancer stem cell signaling in various types of human cancer cells and may be promising therapeutic/preventive agents against CSCs.
This 2019 study says: Recent studies have demonstrated that vitamin D may suppress cancer progression through targeting CSCs compartment. The role of vitamin D in regulating CSCs in gastrointestinal cancers has been thoroughly reviewed in our previous report.
Although the preclinical and epidemiologic data are persuasive and provide supportive evidence for continued development of vitamin D or its analogues for cancer therapy, no well-designed clinical trial of vitamin D has been carried out.
This study reviewed 10 Random Controlled Trials with 79,055 patients with a minimum follow-up of 4 years and more. Vitamin D was associated with significant reduction of cancer-related mortality compared with placebo…Compared with placebo, Vitamin D was not associated with significant reduction of cancer incidence… Conclusions: Our study highlights that the use of Vitamin D supplementation for primary prevention of cancer is important as it does decrease cancer-related mortality once cancer is diagnosed, however it has no role or effect on cancer incidence.
This Review concluded: Molecular scenario induced by vitamin D in cancer context is traditionally linked to its antiproliferative and apoptotic effects, exerted also in combination with different drugs in order to empower medical treatment. Notable evidence reported by studies on animal and cell culture models also highlighted the importance of its antiinflammatory role in cancer.
Last, despite the few works present in the literature, new compelling evidence about the role of vitamin D in the reversion of multidrug resistance is emerging, showing that through miRNA and EMT regulation vitamin D may overcome the increasingly widespread mechanisms of drug resistance in the oncological field, and suggesting its use in the therapeutic approaches for targeting tumors with the multi drug resistance phenotype
Researchers at Michigan State University analyzed data from randomized controlled trials that had compared people who took vitamin D supplements with those who took a placebo for at least 3 years. In all, the analysis took in 10 trials with a total of 79,055 participants. The team found a significant link between the use of vitamin D supplements and a lower risk of death to cancer over the follow-up period – Medical News Today
The majority of studies found a protective relationship between sufficient vitamin D status and lower risk of cancer. The evidence suggests that efforts to improve vitamin D status, for example by vitamin D supplementation, could reduce cancer incidence and mortality at low cost, with few or no adverse effects, according to this study.
Sunshine protects you from cancer!
Consider these research-based facts:
* Sunshine on your skin causes vitamin D to be produced from the cholesterol levels beneath.
* When part of your immune system (a T-cell) finds a rogue cell in your body, the first thing it looks for is a vitamin D molecule to ´activate´ it.
* A deficiency of vitamin D is linked to higher levels of many cancers, and also to other diseases from simple colds to osteoporosis. Vitamin D is a cancer preventer.
* There are several studies which show that over 90 per cent of people with melanoma are deficient in vitamin D. Not surprisingly they have weaker immune systems too. The fact is they haven´t had ENOUGH sun!
* Research shows people who have regular exposure to sunshine get less skin cancer, not more!
* 2009 research from Leeds University showed that vitamin D could prevent skin cancer, and skin cancer patients with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood actually survive longer!
* Possibly the most damning research comes in the Journal of Dermatology in late 2011. Firstly, the researchers conclude that grade 2, 3 and 4 cases of melanoma are not on the increase. They state that the supposed rise in such cancers are because Doctors too readily call grade 1 lesions ´melanoma´ and start treating them when there is no need – ´an artefact´ is how they describe this. Then…
* The same research report concludes that half of genuine melanoma lesions are in places on the body ´where the sun don´t go´.
The Sunshine Vitamin
Epidemiological data indicate that low vitamin D levels may play a role in the genesis and progression of breast, lung, colorectal and prostate cancer, as well as malignant lymphoma and melanoma, according to this study.
A research article – Beneficial effects of sun exposure on cancer mortality – which analyzed a number of studies, found the following:
For more than 50 years, there has been documentation in the medical literature suggesting that regular sun exposure is associated with substantial decreases in death rates from certain cancers and a decrease in overall cancer death rates.
Recent research suggests that this is a causal relationship that acts through the body’s vitamin D metabolic pathways. The studies reviewed here show that
(a) sunlight activation is our most effective source of vitamin D;
(b) regular sunlight/vitamin D “intake” inhibits growth of breast and colon cancer cells and is associated with substantial decreases in death rates from these cancers;
(c) metabolites of vitamin D have induced leukemia and lymphoma cells to differentiate, prolonged survival of leukemic mice, and produced complete and partial clinical responses in lymphoma patients having high vitamin D metabolite receptor levels in tumor tissue;
(d) sunlight has a paradoxical relationship with melanoma, in that severe sunburning initiates melanoma whereas long-term regular sun exposure inhibits melanoma;
(e) frequent regular sun exposure acts to cause cancers that have a 0.3% death rate with 2,000 U.S. fatalities per year and acts to prevent cancers that have death rates from 20-65% with 138,000 U.S. fatalities per year;
(f) there is support in the medical literature to suggest that the 17% increase in breast cancer incidence during the 1991-1992 year may be the result of the past decade of pervasive anti-sun advisories from respected authorities, coinciding with effective sunscreen availability; and
(g) trends in the epidemiological literature suggest that approximately 30,000 U.S. cancer deaths yearly would be averted by the widespread public adoption of regular, moderate sunning.
Advising the public to seek regular moderate sun exposure finds good support in the scientific literature as a means of lowering cancer mortality.
This study says: Vitamin D and its analogs have inhibitory effects on cancer stem cell signaling in various types of human cancer cells and may be promising therapeutic/preventive agents against CSCs. However, the effects of vitamin D on the stem cell signaling pathways vary depending on cell types and cellular contexts.
This Review Article says: In conclusion, Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in GI malignancies mediated by VDR. Vitamin D affects several cellular mechanisms such as inhibiting differentiation, proliferation, metastasis and invasion, angiogenesis, inducing cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis, thus supporting its anticancer role. Serum levels of Vitamin D may serve as an important biomarker of gastrointestinal malignancies.
This study says Vitamin D and its analogs have inhibitory effects on cancer stem cell signaling in various types of human cancer cells and may be promising therapeutic/preventive agents against Cancer Stem Cells.
This 2018 study, published in the Journal of Laboratory Physicians concluded: Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in Gastrointestinal Tract malignancies. Vitamin D affects several cellular mechanisms such as inhibiting differentiation, proliferation, metastasis and invasion, angiogenesis, inducing cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis, thus supporting its anticancer role.
This 2015 study published in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology says: Several lines of evidence have demonstrated that vitamin D plays an important role in the regulation of stem cells of the prostate and the skin. Moreover, vitamin D is a well known inducer of the terminal differentiation of human myeloid leukemia cells… Recently, vitamin D and its analogs were shown to reduce the number of CSCs in breast cancer, further supporting their potential as therapeutic agents.
A meta-analysis of five studies published in the March 2014 issue of Anticancer Research found that patients diagnosed with breast cancer who had high vitamin D levels were twice as likely to survive compared to women with low levels.
This study says:
We investigated the association between serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) and risk of death in Norwegian cancer patients.
The study population was 658 patients with cancers of the breast (n = 251), colon (n = 52), lung (n = 210), and lymphoma (n = 145), Patients were diagnosed during 1984–2004 and were followed for death throughout 2008.
Results … patients with 25-OHD levels below 46 nmol/L at diagnosis experienced shorter survival. Compared to patients in the lowest quartile of serum 25-OHD, the risk of cancer death among patients in the highest quartile was significantly reduced … The estimated change in risk of cancer death was most pronounced between the first and the second quartile. The associations between 25-OHD levels and survival were observed for all four cancers.
Conclusions Higher circulating serum levels of 25-OHD were positively associated with the survival for cancers of the breast, colon, lung, and lymphoma.
In conclusion, the present study demonstrates positive associations between circulating serum levels of 25-OHD, measured at the time of diagnosis, and length of survival for patients with cancer of breast, colon, lung, and lymphoma. These findings confirm previous ecologic data on vitamin D and cancer survival in Norway and add to a growing body of literature, indicating that serum levels of 25-OHD are positively associated with cancer survival.
This 2011 study says: the aim of our study was to assess the effect of post-diagnostic serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations on overall survival and distant disease-free survival.
We conducted a prospective cohort study in Germany including 1,295 incident postmenopausal breast cancer patients aged 50-74 years. Patients were diagnosed between 2002 and 2005 and median follow-up was 5.8 years.
Lower concentrations of 25(OH)D were linearly associated with higher risk of death …and significantly higher risk of distant recurrence.
We found that postmenopausal breast cancer patients with lower post-diagnostic serum 25(OH)D levels were at a statistically significant increased risk of distant recurrence.
In conclusion, lower serum 25(OH)D concentrations may be associated with poorer overall survival and distant disease-free survival in postmenopausal breast cancer patients.
Several ecological studies in both the USA and Europe have reported that breast cancer mortality rates are inversely associated with total solar or ultraviolet B irradiance. Two studies in Norway and England found that breast cancer mortality was lowest for cancers diagnosed in summer and autumn, the seasons with the highest concentrations of 25(OH)D. Lower serum 25(OH)D levels have also been associated with more advanced stages of breast cancer. An observational study among Caucasian women showed that serum levels of 25(OH)D were lower in patients with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer than in those with early-stage disease. In a multi-ethnic cohort of breast cancer survivors, women with localized or regional breast cancer had lower serum 25(OH)D levels than those with in situ disease.
This study says:
We collected serum from 1800 early breast cancer patients at diagnosis,
In conclusion, high vitamin D levels at early breast cancer diagnosis correlate with lower tumor size and better OS, and improve breast cancer-specific outcome, especially in postmenopausal patients.
This prospective analysis of 1043 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who were enrolled in a large phase 3 clinical trial sponsored by the National Cancer Institute of first-line chemotherapy plus biological agents… Patients with higher levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D prior to chemotherapy had significantly improved overall survival and progression-free survival. The median overall survival was 32.6 month for those with the highest 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels compared with 24.5 month for those with the lowest levels
Modified vitamin D shows promise as treatment for pancreatic cancer
Source: Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund
A synthetic form of vitamin D has been found to collapse the thick fibrous tissue, called stroma, surrounding pancreatic tumours, making the cancer much easier for drugs to reach.
The discovery, published in the journal Cell, was led by a research team from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the USA and has already led to human clinical trials.
Ronald Evans, director of Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory and lead author of the paper said: “While the success of this drug in humans with pancreatic cancer is still unclear, the findings in animal studies were strong, raising hope that ongoing clinical trials will give people with this terrible disease hope for a truly new type of therapy.”
The research team knew that a key factor in the growth of pancreatic tumours is their ability to communicate with nearby cells — called the tumour microenvironment. Tumour cells send out signals that make the microenvironment inflamed and dense. This protective stroma around a tumour not only helps the cancer grow, but blocks the access of immune cells and chemotherapeutic drugs, making the cancer particularly hard to treat.
Evans wanted to figure out how to restore this inflamed microenvironment to its ‘normal’ state and weaken the wall around the tumour. He and his colleagues looked at pancreatic stellate cells, which are usually briefly ‘activated’ to aid new cell growth. Nearby a tumour, however, the stellate cells are hijacked by tumour signals to remain activated. This provides the tumour cells with extra growth factors and therefore helps them proliferate, and also forms a stroma barrier around the tumour.
In 2013, Evans’ group discovered that stellate cells in the liver could be ‘switched off’ by a chemically modified form of vitamin D. They wondered whether the same could hold true in the pancreas.
When the researchers added modified vitamin D to activated stellate cells, the cells quickly reverted back to a ‘switched off’ state, stopping production of signals that spur growth and inflammation.
When the team repeated the experiment with mice, they found that combining the drug with existing chemotherapeutics gave a 50 per cent increase in lifespan compared to chemotherapy alone.
“It’s really remarkable considering that vitamin D itself is not attacking the cancer cells,” says Michael Downes, a senior staff scientist at Salk and co-corresponding author of the new work. “It’s changing the environment to a more favourable setting needed for the chemotherapy drugs to work.”
Evans’ group has already teamed up with clinicians at the University of Pennsylvania to launch a clinical trial testing the effectiveness of using their vitamin D-like drug in cancer patients before pancreatic surgery.
Vitamin D Levels May Double Chances of Surviving Breast Cancer, Lower LDL Cholesterol, and Helps Prevent Autism
For many of you, the hint of spring is on the horizon and the opportunity to finally expose your skin to healthy doses of sunshine is very close. Remember that this is a far better choice than using oral vitamin D, as that is how your body was designed to get healthy vitamin D levels.
There are many reasons to be conscious of vitamin D, but today’s featured study will focus on breast health. A robust and rapidly growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention, in part due to the fact that it influences about 10 percent of all your genes.
Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections and chronic inflammation. It also produces over 200 anti-microbial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.
Recent studies demonstrate how optimizing your vitamin D levels may lower your LDL cholesterol levels and double your chances of surviving breast cancer. Researchers also claim to have discovered a causal link between vitamin D deficiency and autism spectrum disorder.
Vitamin D for Breast Cancer
Since the early 2000s, scientific investigations into the effects of vitamin D have ballooned. By the end of 2012, there were nearly 34,000 published studies on the effects of vitamin D, and there are well over 800 references in the medical literature showing vitamin D’s effectiveness against cancer alone.
According to Carole Baggerly, founder of GrassrootsHealth, as much as 90 percent of ordinary breast cancer may in fact be related to vitamin D deficiency.
Most recently, a meta-analysis of five studies published in the March 2014 issue of Anticancer Research found that patients diagnosed with breast cancer who had high vitamin D levels were twice as likely to survive compared to women with low levels.
The analysis included more than 4,500 breast cancer patients over a nine-year period. The high serum group had an average vitamin D level of 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). Women in the low serum group averaged 17 ng/ml, which is the average vitamin D level found in American breast cancer patients.
The study was co-authored by Professor Cedric F. Garland—featured in the 2011 video above—along with other researchers at the San Diego School of Medicine. Funding for the research was in part provided by a Congressional allocation to the Penn State Cancer Institute of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Vitamin D has a number of anticancer effects, including the promotion of cancer cell death, known as apoptosis, and the inhibition of angiogenesis (the growth of blood vessels that feed a tumor). According to Dr. Garland:
“As long as vitamin D receptors were present, tumor growth was prevented and kept from expanding its blood supply. Vitamin D receptors are not lost until a tumor is very advanced. This is the reason for better survival in patients whose vitamin D blood levels are high.”
The researchers urge physicians to make vitamin D monitoring and optimization part of standard breast cancer care, and recommend that breast cancer patients should restore their vitamin D levels to a normal range of 30-80 ng/ml. According to the featured findings, you need at least 30 ng/ml of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) to prevent cancer from spreading. That said, other research suggests you’d be better off with levels as high as 80 ng/ml.
How Much Vitamin D Is Required for Breast Cancer Prevention?
In 2011, Dr. Garland’s team found that a vitamin D level of 50 ng/ml is associated with a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer. (Similarly, a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded that a vitamin D level of more than 33 ng/mL was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer.)
In the featured video above, GrassrootsHealth founder Carole Baggerly interviews Dr. Garland about those 2011 findings.
At that time, they discovered that in order to achieve protective levels, you have to take far more supplemental vitamin D than previously thought. To reach a minimum protective level of 40 ng/ml of vitamin D, study participants had to take anywhere from 1,000 IUs to as much as 8,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day—a far cry from the recommended daily allowance of 600 IUs of vitamin D for adults.
The supplemental dose ensuring that 97.5 percent of the study population achieved a serum 25(OH)D of at least 40 ng/mL was 9,600 IU/day. This study also concluded that intake of up to 40,000 IUs per day is unlikely to result in vitamin D toxicity.
It’s important to note, however, that it’s virtually impossible to make a general recommendation on how much vitamin D to take as the amount needed can vary significantly from one individual to another. In essence, you need to regularly monitor your levels, and take whatever amount of vitamin D3 you need to maintain a clinically relevant level.
Vitamin D May Also Benefit Your Cholesterol Level
In related news, a recently published study10 found that vitamin D in combination with calcium appears to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women. As reported by the New York Times:11
“Researchers randomly assigned 576 postmenopausal women to either a daily dose of 400 units of vitamin D and 1,000 milligrams of calcium, or a placebo. They followed them for three years. By the end of the study, published in Menopause,12 the vitamin D group had significantly higher serum levels of vitamin D, and a small but notable drop in LDL.”
Women taking a combination of vitamin D and calcium had a 4.46 mg/dL mean decrease in LDL cholesterol. Previous research by Dr. Stephanie Seneff also suggests that healthy cholesterol and sulfur levels are highly dependent on your vitamin D levels. Through her research, she believes that the mechanism we call “cardiovascular disease,” of which arterial plaque is a hallmark, is actually your body’s way to compensate for not having enough cholesterol sulfate.
Sun Exposure Is Likely the IDEAL Way to Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
To summarize Dr. Seneff’s findings, high LDL appears to be a sign of cholesterol sulfate deficiency. According to Dr. Seneff, your body’s way of trying to maintain the correct balance is to take damaged LDL and turn it into plaque. Within this plaque, your blood platelets produce cholesterol sulfate, which your heart and brain needs for optimal function.
Her research also suggests that in order to truly optimize your cholesterol levels, you really need to get your vitamin D from sun exposure, and here’s why: when you expose your skin to sunshine, your skin synthesizes vitamin D3 sulfate. This form of vitamin D is water-soluble, unlike oral vitamin D3 supplements, which is unsulfated. The water-soluble form can travel freely in your blood stream, whereas the unsulfated form needs LDL (the so-called “bad” cholesterol) as a vehicle of transport. Dr. Seneff suspects that the simple oral non-sulfated form of vitamin D likely will not provide the same benefits as the vitamin D created in your skin from sun exposure, as it cannot be converted to vitamin D sulfate.
If you’re still under the mistaken impression that sun exposure is the primary cause of skin cancer, the following explanation may be of great help. Dr. Seneff states that:
“Both cholesterol and sulfur afford protection in the skin from radiation damage to the cell’s DNA, the kind of damage that can lead to skin cancer. Cholesterol and sulfur become oxidized upon exposure to the high frequency rays in sunlight, thus acting as antioxidants to ‘take the heat,’ so to speak. Oxidation of cholesterol is the first step in the process by which cholesterol transforms itself into vitamin D3.”
Additionally, distorted omega-3 to omega-6 ratios play a major role in the development of skin cancers too. In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences published a comprehensive review13 showing that the omega 6:3 ratio was the key to preventing skin cancer development. An Australian study14 published in 1993 showed a 40 percent reduction in melanoma for those who were eating fish, which is rich in omega-3s. And this was without any attention to lowering omega-6 fats. Omega-3 and omega-6 fats are both essential for human health. However, the typical American consumes far too many omega-6 fats in their diet while consuming very low levels of omega-3. While the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1, our ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 averages from 20:1 to 50:1.
What kinds of vitamin D dietary supplements are available?
The two forms of vitamin D in supplements are D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Both forms increase vitamin D in your blood, but D3 might raise it higher and for longer than D2. Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, it is best absorbed when taken with a meal or snack that includes some fat.
Source: US Office of Dietary Supplements
Where can I get this treatment and more information?
Sunlight spurs the body to make vitamin D.
Fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.
Also available as a supplement in Health Food Stores