Vitamin D Analogue Therapy

"Vitamin D given in large doses has been shown in laboratory work to make cancer cells "differentiate", that is develop from the primitive forms characteristic of cancer cells into the more complex, [organized] forms of normal cells ... at present, it must be considered solely adjuvant and not a sole therapy.

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Vitamin D & Cancer
Vitamin D and calcium seemed to cut the risk of cancer in a study that was designed to see if the supplements could prevent bone fractures.

Researchers gave 1,179 Nebraska women over age 55 daily doses of vitamin D (1,100International Units) plus calcium (1,400to 1,500 milligrams), calcium alone, or a placebo. After four years, cancers (most often breast) were diagnosed in 7 percent of the women who took the placebo, 4 percent of the women who took calcium alone, and just 2 percent of the women who took both vitamin D and calcium.

What to do: This study had too few cancers to be the final word on whether vitamin D prevents cancer. But it's worth taking 1,000 IU a day (and 1,200 mg of calcium) to protect your bones.

The only other trial that tested vitamin D on cancer--the Women's Health Initiative-found no lower risk of colorectal cancer. But it used a much lower dose (400 IU a day). However, in both this study and the Women's Health initiative, women who started the study with higher blood levels of vitamin D had a lower risk of cancer.
Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 85: 1586, 2007.

The headlines were unequivocal: if you live in the northern
laStUdes—and we all do, in Canada—you may be able to cut your
risk for cancer in half by increasing your intake of vitamin D.
Research published in the American Journai of Clinical Nutrition in
June 2007 found that women with lower vitamin D intake showed
greater risk for cancer. The four-year, double-blind, randomized
trial Looked at cancer risk in nearly 1,200 healthy post-
menopausal women. Study subjects were given a placebo, a
calcium supplement alone, or a combination of vitamin D
11,100 lU daily! and calcium supplements n.iOO to 1.500 ID daily};
risk for cancer was halved in the combination-D-and-calcium
group, compared to the placebo group.

In response to this study and others that have correlated vitamin D
to a decreased risk for colorectal and prostate cancers, the
Canadian Cancer Society ICCSl is now recommending that aduUs
living in Canada consider supplementing with 1.000 lU of vitamin D
daily during the fall and winter months (when the sun's rays are
weaker)—more than double the previously recommended dosage.
HeaUh Canada had previously suggested an adequate intake for
adults 19 to 70 years old of between 200 and 400 lU daily.
According to Heather Logan, the CCS's director of cancer control
policy, "The current evidence suggests [the 1,000 lU daily dose]
will help reduce cancer risk with the least potential for harm."
Vitamin D is also known to play an important role in preventing
osteoporosis and multiple sclerosis and helping relieve joint

damage due to arthritis.
W Although we can also get vitamin D through sun exposure

during the summer months, the Cancer Society has not
R reversed its statements on avoiding unprotected sun because
H of the concomitant risks for skin cancer. While the Society

recommends getting our daily dose of vitamin D from

supplements, good food sources include butter,
mushrooms, cod liver oil, eggs, tuna, mackerel.

salmon, and sardines.

A few days after the CCS announced its
recommendations, vitamin D supple-

ments were flying off the shelves
and demand was outpacing

supply in many stores
across Canada.
—Susan Safyan