One year ago, I showed you a very easy way to avoid colon cancer. All you have to do is make sure your blood level of vitamin D is high. A study found that taking vitamin D reduces your risk of getting colon polyps — an early precursor to cancer — by 40%. But now there's research that suggests taking vitamin D will do more than just prevent colon cancer. It might even help treat colon cancer.
In this study, researchers started by measuring the blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in 1,043 people with colon cancer. The 25-hydroxyvitamin D is a substance produced in the liver from vitamin D. All of the patients were enrolled in a phase-3 trial of three different drug combinations. The trial was for people with newly diagnosed, advanced colorectal cancer. This is important. We're not talking about early diagnosis here. We're talking about people who have advanced colon cancer where death is the likely outcome.
The researchers found that vitamin D levels in the lowest group averaged 8 nanograms/milliliter (ng/mL). And the highest group had an average of 27.5 ng/mL. The average level in all the patients was 17.2 ng/mL. These are incredibly low levels of vitamin D. The Endocrine Society says vitamin D deficiency is anything below 20 ng/mL. I think it's anything below 50 ng/ml. So even those in the highest group were deficient in my estimation.
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Even though the highest levels were still deficient, it made a big difference in their cancer survival rates. Those with the highest levels survived 33% longer than those with the lowest. On average, they survived about 10 months longer than those with extreme deficiencies (32.6 months vs. 24.5 months). The higher vitamin D levels also meant better quality of life, as it took longer for their disease to progress (12.2 months vs. 10.1 months).
This study is the largest study we've ever seen that looked at advanced metastatic colorectal cancer patients and vitamin D. And it clearly suggests that higher levels of vitamin D can help treat colon cancer. I would like to see a study on patients with vitamin D levels well above 50 ng/mL. It might be hard to find patients with blood levels this high, as most people are well below this level. And it's possible the preventive effects of vitamin D could dramatically lower the number of colon patients. So we may never see a study with high levels of vitamin D.
But don't wait for more information on vitamin D's ability to fight colon cancer. Eat a diet that boosts your vitamin D. Spend time outdoors without getting sunburned. And take 5,000 IU of vitamin D in supplement form every day. It could help you prevent — and even treat — colon cancer.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.