Saturday, April 08, 2006

Importance of Vitamin D

Importance of Vitamin D

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Vitamin D is known to have beneficial properties, including anticancer qualities. Now, a new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reveals it may be especially valuable in protecting men against cancer.

Since the 1930s researchers suggested sunlight helps lower the risk of cancer, and a 1941 study shows an association between living in a lower latitude and reduced cancer mortality. Studies in the past 25 years have also found poor vitamin D intake can be blamed for some cases of colon, breast, prostate and ovarian cancers in people living at higher latitudes.

Humans can get vitamin D in a number of different ways including food, the sun, and dietary supplements. These can all be impacted simply by where a person lives, their skin pigmentation and the amount of time they spend doing outdoor activities. Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston took all of this into account when they performed their study on 47,800 men involved in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

For 14 years they documented 4,286 cases of cancer and 2,025 deaths from cancer. Further analysis shows men who consumed approximately 1,500 IU of vitamin D daily had a 17-percent reduction in cancer incidence and a 29-percent reduction in death from cancer. They also cut their chances of getting and dying from cancers of the digestive system nearly in half.

Current health recommendations, note researchers, discourage high intake of vitamin D and high levels of sun exposure without the use of sunscreen. Researchers suggest men consider a daily supplementation of 1,500 IU of vitamin D, an amount that is safe but not generally encouraged, to help reduce their risk of cancer. A glass of milk accounts for only about 100 IU of vitamin D and excessive sun exposure is discouraged due to the increased risk of melanoma associated with the sun.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2006;98:451-459

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