Sharon Kirkey , Ottawa CitizenPublished: Thursday, June 07, 2007
A simple vitamin to prevent cancer has finally been accepted by the mainstream.
Long after natural "cures" such as shark cartilage and laetrile from peach pits flopped comes the first study of its kind to show that vitamin D is a potent cancer stopper.
The Canadian Cancer Society has used that finding and others in deciding to recommend for the first time that adult Canadians lower their cancer risk by taking 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily - five times the current recommended daily amount for people under age 50.
The lead author of the new study called the Canadian move "outstanding," but said she would go even higher and recommend healthy adults pop between 1,500 and 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily.
"It's inexpensive, it's safe, and it's easy to take. It's something that should be considered by a lot of people," says Joan Lappe, professor of nursing and medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb. "It's low-risk with maybe a high pay-off."
Lappe's team studied nearly 1,200 post-menopausal women from rural eastern Nebraska and found that those taking a combination of vitamin D and calcium had about a 60 per cent lower risk of cancer, including breast, lung and colon cancer, over four years of follow-up.
"In other words, it cut more than half the cancers over a four-year period," Lappe says.
Moreover, the higher the level of vitamin D in the blood, the lower people's cancer risks, according to the study, published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
An expert in cancer biology called the idea of using vitamin D to cut cancer risk one of the most important advances in cancer prevention. Dr. Michael Pollak, professor of medicine and oncology at Montreal's McGill University, said it may be time for public health authorities to consider mandating higher levels of vitamin D in milk and adding it to other foods, such as bread and flour.
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