Does Vitamin D Help with the Prevention of Colon Cancer?
View All Section Pages
Study after study has linked low vitamin D levels with various diseases including cancer and heart disease. However, the exact nature of the connection has thus far remained unclear. It has posed an age old question: “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” Are low vitamin D levels a possible cause for disease, or is it one of the resulting factors after a disease is developed? Researchers continue to work to uncover the true nature of the correlation.
Cooper Clinic has long recognized the importance of vitamin D for bone health, as we have included vitamin D testing for each patient since 2007. Cooper Clinic recommends at least 2000 IU of supplemental vitamin D daily (the amount found in Cooper Complete Original, Elite Athlete and Basic One multivitamins). The start of this year has brought a new and exciting publication which is causing us to pay even more attention to the “sunshine vitamin” as the study begins to tell a better story of how vitamin D levels relate to disease, specifically colorectal cancer. As March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we offer the latest research.
What is Colorectal Cancer and why is it important to know about?
Colorectal Cancer, also called bowel cancer, develops in the colon or the rectum, both parts of the gastrointestinal (digestive) system. The American Cancer Society says excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 93,090 new cases of colon cancer and 39,610 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States in 2015. Routine screenings (such as colonoscopies) have the potential to prevent colorectal cancer, because most cancers of this type develop from small, detectable polyps or growths. Removing these polyps during a colonoscopy can actually prevent cancer from occurring. Cooper Clinic recommends a colonoscopy for men and women over 45, but it can be difficult to get insurance to pay for it. At least by age 50, both men and women should have a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer. These tests are recommended every five years, unless a patient has abnormal polyps, in which case he or she should have a colonoscopy every three years or more frequently. If you have a family history of colon cancer, it is recommended that you have your first colonoscopy 10 years before your family member was when he/she was diagnosed. For example, if your father was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 50, you should be screened at age 40. In addition, maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity and ending smoking habits can also help prevent this cancer. Incidentally, these are all steps we recommend to Get Cooperized™.
What is the new research on vitamin D?
Published by the health journal Gut, new research shows for the first time a link between vitamin D and the immune response to cancer in a large human population. “People with high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream have a lower overall risk of developing colorectal cancer,” said the study’s lead researcher Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD, from Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “Laboratory research suggests that vitamin D boosts immune system function by activating T [immune] cells that recognize and attack cancer cells. In this study, we wanted to determine if these two phenomena are related: Does vitamin D’s role in the immune system account for the lower rates of colorectal cancer in people with high circulating levels of the vitamin?”
The research team drew on data from 170,000 participants from two long-term health-tracking studies and compared carefully selected groups of 318 colorectal cancer patients and 624 cancer-free individuals. All the participants had blood samples drawn prior to developing cancer. The researchers tested these blood samples for evidence of vitamin D, and what they found was that patients with higher levels of vitamin D had a lower-than-average risk of developing colorectal tumors. This study of actual patients shows evidence that vitamin D can work with the body’s immune system to raise defenses against cancer. There is still more to investigate on this topic, but Ogino expressed, “In the future, we may be able to predict how increasing an individual’s vitamin D intake and immune function can reduce his or her risk of colorectal cancer.”
Vitamin D Supplementation
All Cooper Complete multivitamins contain the Cooper Clinic’s recommended baseline level of vitamin D (2000 IU). This is more than most other multivitamins contain. If your blood test shows that you need even higher levels, we offer additional vitamin D supplementation in either a soft gel or liquid form.
For more information about vitamin D and our entire line of Cooper Complete Nutritional Supplements, please visit coopercomplete.com or call 888-393-2221.
Article provided by Karen Perkins, Account Executive, Cooper Concepts Inc.