Why Vitamin D Is So Important
Because of the fact that women with breast cancer are generally deficient in vitamin D – and this is the time of year when we start to get deficiencies, when sunlight is less available or we’re all covered up, I wanted to raise awareness that this is a good time of year for vitamin D supplementation.
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because certain amounts of it come from sunshine in an interesting chemical reaction that happens in the skin. While soaking in the sun may seem like a great idea for getting the vitamin D we need, as you are probably aware, it can create problems for us by giving us wrinkly skin and increasing our risk of skin cancer.
Vitamin D is required for a healthy, functioning immune system. It is also required for the proper absorption of calcium and phosphorus — two minerals that are crucial to bone health. Vitamin D also contribute to brain and heart health, as well as maintaining a healthy weight.
The importance of vitamin D cannot be stressed enough. It is no ordinary “vitamin”, it is in fact a steroid hormone that influences nearly every cell in your body. Receptors that respond to vitamin D have been found in nearly every type of human cell, from the bones to the brain, which is why it has such a powerful part to play in the human body.
Vitamin D’s Role In Estrogen Receptor Positive Breast Cancer
As we know, many breast cancers are fueled by estrogen and for those whose tumor cells have estrogen receptors (known as ER+, meaning that this sort of tumor appears to depend on estrogen to grow) there is some really great news about vitamin D.
In a recent study done on mice, researchers reported that calcitriol (the hormonally active form of vitamin D) inhibits the growth of many cancerous cells including breast cancer cells by arresting the cancer cells’ replication cycles. Researchers also found that vitamin D suppressed aromatase, the enzyme that assists with estrogen synthesis in breast cancer cells. Now that’s exciting news! We’re always looking for natural aromatase inhibitors.
The Top 6 Food Sources of Vitamin D
What I wanted you to be aware of is that most foods do not contain sufficient amounts of vitamin D, so supplementation is advisable, especially at this time of year.
So How Much Is Enough and What Kind of Vitamin D?
According to mercola.com: “When you do supplement with vitamin D, you’ll only want to supplement with natural vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Do NOT use the synthetic and highly inferior vitamin D2, which is the one most doctors will typically give you in a prescription unless you ask specifically for D3. According to the most recent findings, which involved research on nearly 10,000 people, shows the ideal adult dose appears to be 8,000 IU’s a day to get most into the healthy range.”
If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, get them checked. The best way to determine the correct dose for you personally is to get your blood levels of vitamin D tested. Accordingly to Dr Mercola, the correct test to ask for from your doctor is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which is the better marker of overall D status. This is the marker that is most strongly associated with overall health.
If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com). When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally. You can depend on me to help you through this.
Responding to research showing that vitamin D may slow the progression of breast, colon and other common cancers, some doctors have begun recommending their patients add vitamin D to their “tool kit” of cancer therapies alongside more conventional treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. When the sun shines on the skin, the ultraviolet rays activate a form of cholesterol which is present in the skin, converting it to vitamin D1. Because the body can provide sufficient vitamin D to meet its needs simply through exposure to sunlight, some feel it is not really a vitamin, but rather a hormone.
What must be taken into account, however, is the fact that the amount of vitamin D converted through sunlight exposure varies according to the time of year, latitude and longitude where you live, the color of your skin, and whether or not you wear a sunscreen whenever you go out. So not everyone gets the same amount of vitamin D.
Recent studies have indicated that women in North America and northern European countries exhibit the highest incidence rate of breast cancer, whereas women in southern regions are relatively protected.
While not all doctors are convinced that the studies are strong enough evidence to warrant taking an extra dollop of vitamin D, those recommending it say popping the pills is a simple health strategy that has few, if any, risks and has the added benefit of also improving bone health in those with cancer.
Doctors Discuss the Data on Vitamin D
“There is emerging data on breast cancer recurrence rates and vitamin D levels that are quite compelling,” says Tracey O’Connor, an oncologist at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo who treats breast cancer and is having her patients take the vitamin.
Dr O’Connor recommends high doses of the supplement to the most deficient patients immediately after they are diagnosed to quickly raise blood levels of the nutrient.
Dr. O’Connor says that having a low level of vitamin D “is quite common” among women with breast cancer, and most patients – about 80% – are either deficient or have insufficient amounts.
Dr. O’Connor says some breast-cancer patients have such low stores of the nutrient that they need to embark on a crash course of taking up to 50,000 iu a week for several months to bring up their levels. Other patients whose starting levels aren’t so poor take a few thousand iu per day. She also monitors blood levels to make sure people don’t get too much.
International units are the standard measurement of how much vitamin D is contained in supplements or foods. Multivitamins typically have either 400 or 800 iu, and a cup of fortified milk has 100 iu.
Longer Survival Times
In recent years, vitamin D has emerged as one of the most intriguing areas of cancer research. There have been numerous epidemiological studies finding that people with less vitamin D in their blood are at a higher risk of developing cancer compared with those who have higher levels. 18 different cancers have been identified for which this trend has been observed and includes colon and breast cancer.
Other research has found that people diagnosed with cancer in summer and fall – when blood levels of vitamin D are at seasonal highs because of sun exposure – have longer survival times than people whose cancers are detected in winter and spring.
I’m not advocating using ONLY vitamin D to fight breast cancer. I truly believe, however, that it is beneficial to add to your arsenal of weapons against breast cancer. If you’re newly diagnosed with breast cancer, generally wear sunscreen or don’t spend much time in the sun, and don’t drink milk, it might be a very good idea to go and get your vitamin D levels checked and start supplementing if your levels are low. Watch this compelling video by Dr Joseph Mercola on vitamin D testing and supplementation.
If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.
Aromatase Inhibitors: Natural vs Toxic
I wanted to follow up my post of May 1, 2012 – The Down & Dirty on Aromatase Inhibitors for Breast Cancer Treatment – with more information for you.
In that blog post, I’ve already described what aromatase inhibitors are, how they work, why doctors prescribe them and how the women that take them feel about them, so I won’t be covering those topics here. I want to present information on the differences between synthetic and natural aromatase inhibitors (let’s call them AIs for the sake of brevity).
Synthetic Aromatase Inhibitors
The main problem with synthetically produced AIs is the fact that they have unpleasant side effects. One of the most prescribed, Arimidex, has a list of side effects that includes hot flashes, nausea, weakness or fatigue, headaches, arthritis, general pain, joint pain, sore throat, bone pain, back pain, cough, difficulty breathing, osteoporosis, vomiting, broken bones, insomnia, swelling or water retention in the arms or legs, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, high cholesterol, infections, weight gain, breast pain, dizziness, urinary tract infections, and loss of appetite.
Some of these side effects such as bone pain and arthritis may not go away even when use of the drug is discontinued. Not particularly pleasant, by any means. But then (I hear you saying) neither is BREAST CANCER! Stay with me here.
Drugs are foreign substances that do not occur in nature. Your liver must detoxify them and that places a strain on it. Livers that are stressed from prolonged drug use can become enlarged and even cancerous. Because drugs are foreign substances they don’t work synergistically with your body and your immune system mounts a defense against them. Since the drug is taken daily, your immune system is continuously overworked and not available to do the job for which it was intended, which is keeping your body healthy and well.
Eventually the immune system is able to render these drugs ineffective. Women who have relied on AIs to keep them safe from a recurrence of breast cancer are then left unprotected and uneducated as to what to do to protect themselves.
A research study done at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto compared AIs to Tamoxifen in post-menopausal women. More than 30,000 breast cancer patients were involved in multiple trials to obtain their data. It was found that longer use of AIs led to more bone fractures and heart disease, while prolonged use of Tamoxifen resulted in higher rates of cancer of the womb and blood clots. Although AIs were found to prevent breast cancer recurrence, they were not found to prolong life.
There is still one more problem regarding AIs. They take the focus off the real issue which is why a breast cancer developed in the first place. Since cancer is an obvious wake up call that something is radically wrong in the body, this something needs to be addressed!
AIs may keep breast cancer away for awhile, but how about the rest of the body? If the conditions that promoted the breast cancer have not been addressed, there is danger of cancer to other organs and tissues as well as chance for other degenerative disease to get started because this is a body that has already exhibited a willingness to promote disease.
8 Natural Aromatase Inhibitors
These are the things found in nature – the things with which we were provided by nature for our pharmacy. They don’t come with a myriad of side effects. Most natural therapists agree: natural AIs are the only good choice for preventing breast cancer.
They work as effectively as drugs with none of those aforementioned side effects! According to research conducted at the University of Munster in Germany, when women who have estrogen imbalances consume foods rich in natural AIs, breast cancer never gets the opportunity to begin. Eating an unhealthy diet of processed and refined foods high in unhealthy fats, simple sugars, artificial sweeteners and other food chemicals will have the opposite effect.
Book: “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer” by John R Lee, MD
Research paper: B Ebert et al, Phytochemicals Induce Breast Cancer Resistance Protein in Caco-2 Cells and Enhance Transport of Benzo [a] Pyrene-3 Sulfate, Toxicology Science, April, 2007.
Research paper: Pelissero C, Lenczowski MJ, Chinzi D, Davail-Cuisset B, Sumpter JP, Fostier Effects of flavonoids on aromatase activity, an in vitro study. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1996 Feb;57(3-4):215-23.
If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com). It is my honor to help you through this.