Low "D" Linked to Cancer, Diabetes, Obesity
The latest on vitamin D comes from three new studies. The first suggests that women with low levels of "D" may be at increased risk for an aggressive type of breast cancer. The second reveals that low levels of "D" are associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and the third investigation demonstrates that it isn't easy to normalize levels of "D" in obese teens. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center looked at vitamin D levels in 155 breast cancer patients before and after surgery. They found that low levels of "D" were associated with hard-to-treat tumors that have a worse outlook than other types of breast cancer. They noted that premenopausal women and African-American women were more likely to have low levels of "D" than older, Caucasian women. Meanwhile, after following 5,000 people for five years, Australian researchers reported that those with lower than average vitamin D levels had 57 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those whose levels of "D" were in the recommended range. And researchers at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, RI reported that even after being treated, levels of vitamin D remained low among almost three-quarters of a group of 68 obese adolescents. The researchers called for increased surveillance of obese teens and studies to determine whether normalizing their levels of "D" would help protect them against obesity-related health risks.
My take? Earlier studies have suggested that low levels of vitamin D are associated with the spread of breast cancer after treatment, and we do know that breast cancer occurs more frequently in areas of the world that get the least sun (exposure to sunlight initiates the synthesis of vitamin D in our bodies). Overall, an increasing body of evidence suggests that "D" plays an important role in defending against cancer (studies have linked a deficiency of vitamin D to as many as 18 different types of cancer). In recent years, scientists have also found that "D" may help to prevent a number of other diseases, including diabetes. Because of the accumulating evidence associating low levels of vitamin D with disease, I raised my recommendation of 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day to a minimum dose of 2,000 IU per day. No adverse effects have been seen with supplemental vitamin D intakes up to 10,000 IU daily.
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