Men with prostate cancer are as much as seven times less likely to die if they have high levels of the “sunshine vitamin” -- vitamin D -- according to a new study.
The research looked at 160 patients with prostate cancer who were classified as having either low, medium, or high blood levels of vitamin D. Over the course of the multi-year study, 52 of the patients died of prostate cancer. Low vitamin D levels were found to significantly affect chances of survival.
The study’s authors theorized that since vitamin D has a similar structure to androgen, it might amplify the therapeutic effects of lowering androgen levels and improve the survival chances of men with prostate cancer.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
For all of you male readers, if you want to avoid prostate cancer, and protect your health if you already have it, getting regular sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D levels is an absolute must.
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men, other than skin cancer, and the American Cancer Society estimates that one man in six will get this disease during his lifetime. In all, ACS estimated there were over 186,000 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States in 2008.
The conventional treatments for prostate cancer include surgery to remove the prostate gland or radiotherapy. However, more recent research has begun to question these invasive treatments, as they may not be necessary for most men diagnosed with a low grade of the disease.
Prostate cancer is typically slow growing, and the five-year survival rate for all stages of prostate cancer combined is 99 percent, the 10-year survival rate is 91 percent, and the 15-year survival rate is 76 percent.
So it is very much a disease that can be managed … if you make the appropriate lifestyle modifications.
Why Sunlight is One of Your Most Important Cancer-Fighting Tools
This most recent study found men with prostate cancer are as much as seven times LESS likely to die if they have high levels of vitamin D. And a previous study found men with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood were half as likely to develop aggressive forms of prostate cancer as those with lower amounts.
Another groundbreaking study discovered that correcting vitamin D deficiencies through appropriate sunshine exposure could prevent 600,000 cases of colorectal- and breast cancer each year, worldwide. This is important as prostate cancer is essentially the male equivalent of breast cancer.
Numerous other studies also confirm the link between vitamin D deficiency and multiple types of cancer. The “sunshine vitamin” has a protective effect against cancer in several ways, including:
• Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
• Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
• Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
• Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous
How Much Vitamin D do You Need?
Your doctor can measure your serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) to determine your vitamin D status. Your vitamin D level should always be above 32 ng/ml, and anything below 20 ng/ml is considered a serious deficiency state, which will increase your risk of breast and prostate cancers and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The one caution here in the US is to be certain your test is performed at a lab like Labcorp, that uses the gold standard Diasorin test for checking vitamin D levels.
In the United States, late winter 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels generally range from 15 to 18 ng/ml, so this vitamin deficiency affects a very large portion of the U.S. population.
African Americans are even more prone to vitamin D deficiencies, as they produce less vitamin D3 than do whites in response to usual levels of sun exposure, and therefore have lower vitamin D serum concentrations year-round.
This deficiency may help explain why African Americans also have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world, according to the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention.
The OPTIMAL value that you’re looking for is 45-52 ng/ml (115-128 nmol/l), but previous research has suggested that maintaining a slightly higher level of 55 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) is optimal for cancer prevention.
For those who already have cancer, meanwhile, vitamin D can help to treat the disease and you’ll want to keep your levels around 65-90 ng/ml for this purpose.
Sun exposure is, hands-down, the best way to get your vitamin D. But if you find you’re not spending enough time outdoors in the sun, you can instead use a safe tanning bed or an oral vitamin D supplement as the last choice approach to normalize your levels.
The disadvantage of swallowing vitamin D is that you’ll need to have your blood levels tested to be sure your vitamin D levels are in the correct range, but remember not just any test -- or any lab -- will do. I’ve discussed exactly what you need to know to get the right vitamin D test, with accurate results, here.
Please also set aside some time to watch my one-hour vitamin D lecture, as it is loaded with all the details you need to use this vital nutrient to protect your health.
More Natural Tips to Prevent Prostate Cancer
Optimizing your vitamin D levels is an important part of prostate cancer prevention, but it is far from the only method. Another sensible strategy is to increase your intake of vitamin K2 (found in fermented foods such as natto), which may reduce your risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent.
You can also follow these helpful tips for prostate cancer prevention and all-natural alternative treatments given to me by former guest commentator Dr. Larry Clapp, author of Prostate Health in 90 Days Without Drugs or Surgery.
• Be sure to keep your insulin levels below three as high insulin levels drive and promote cancer growth.
• Cleanse past accumulation of toxins in your tissue, gut and colon with a good detox program
• Cleanse your mouth of hidden infections from root canals, amalgam fillings, decay and gum infections. Then, chelate mercury from your body, nutritionally.
• Avoid as many toxins as possible as your prostate was designed by nature to filter toxins from your semen.
• Adopt the advice in Take Control of Your Health and eat a healthy diet based on your nutritional type.
All types must eliminate:
• High glycemic carbohydrates such as sugar, pasta, potatoes, bread and most grains
• All pasteurized dairy
• Conventional grain and chemical fed animals
• Most fish, due to high levels of mercury and PCB contamination
Also if you are not sensitive or allergic to them incorporate natural lycopene foods such as:
Cabbage family foods, such as broccoli and broccoli sprouts to help control excess estrogens, the real enemy of the prostate
Take a high-quality krill oil with vitamin E to rebuild omega-3 fat levels, which are deficient in most people and a major cause of inflammation and disease.
Get full body sun exposure whenever possible to increase vitamin D levels, which need to be tested regularly.
Avoid biopsies, which permanently damage your prostate and can spread or cause cancer. Have a far more reliable, non-invasive Power Color Doppler Sonogram of your prostate done by Robert Bard, MD in New York City, www.cancerscan.com or other qualified Radiologists. PCD is the first line of diagnosis in other countries, but is not sanctioned by American Urologists so it is difficult to find.