A new study looking at the relationship between vitamin D serum levels and the risk of colon and breast cancer across the globe has estimated the number of cases of cancer that could be prevented each year if vitamin D3 levels met the target proposed by researchers.
Cedric F. Garland, Dr.P.H., cancer prevention specialist at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and colleagues estimate that 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented worldwide by increasing intake of vitamin D3, particularly in countries north of the equator. Vitamin D3 is available through diet, supplements and exposure of the skin to sunlight.
The serum level recommended by the study would correspond to intake of 2000 International Units per day of vitamin D3 for a meaningful reduction in colorectal cancer. The researchers recommend 2000 IU/day, plus, when weather allows, a few minutes in the sun with at least 40% of the skin exposed, for a meaningful reduction in breast cancer incidence, unless the individual has a history of skin cancer or a photosensitivity disease.
Garland also recommends moderate sun exposure and use of clothing and a hat when in the sun longer than 15 minutes.
"The message is, depending on where you live, you may need to consider taking in considerably higher levels of vitamin D3 than those currently recommended," said Garland. "I'd recommend discussing vitamin D needs with a health care professional, who may order and interpret a simple blood test for a vitamin D metabolite [25(OH)D], and provide a dosage recommendation that's appropriate for the individual's needs."
The study was co-authored by Cedric F. Garland, Dr. P.H., Sharif B. Mohr, M.P.H., Edward D. Gorham, M.P.H., Ph.D., and Frank C. Garland, Ph.D., of the Division of Epidemiology at the UCSD Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Moores UCSD Cancer Center; and William B. Grant, Ph.D., of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center, San Francisco.
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Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of California - San Diego.
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