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Vitamin D and Colon Cancer

Sometimes I will post older research that I come across that is important. I recently learned that in the late 1980s researchers from Johns Hopkins first showed that high vitamin D levels are associated with a very significant decrease in colon cancer. They studied more than 25,000 people for more than 10 years to see if they developed colon cancer. If people had a vitamin D level above 20 ng/ml they had one-third the risk of colon cancer compared to those below that level. But the exciting issue is that those who had normal vitamin D (above 33 ng/ml), the risk of colon cancer were reduced by a whopping 80 percent!

Many of you know that I test vitamin D blood levels on all my patients. I highly encourage and recommend that you have your doctor do this widely available test. At this time of year it is rare for most anyone to have levels above 33. Most patients I test are under 25 and many are under 20 or even 10. It is important to know that not only does your risk for colon cancer rise, but so does the risk for the far more common cancers, breast and prostate. Virtually everyone in the United States would benefit from taking cod liver oil at this time of year. If you have any autoimmune disease, like hypothyroidism, MS, or rheumatoid arthritis, it is highly likely you will need additional vitamin D that is over and above that found in cod liver oil. I have had to put some patients on an additional 12,000 units per day to get their levels up.

However, please understand that it is potentially dangerous to use these high doses of vitamin D and they should only be done by monitoring your blood vitamin D levels. It does seem somewhat challenging to my perspective to use vitamins as drugs in the winter, but if we didn't live so far north and had access to sub tropical or tropical sun, all we would have to do is step outside with some skin exposed every day and that would solve the problem. But for most of us in the United States, that is just not going to happen anytime soon.

Lancet November 18, 1989;2(8673):1176-8

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