New Research Shows Vitamin D Reduces Risk of Cancer

I've been blogging about vitamin D for quite some time and it's always good to see the evidence piling up that it's a real health issue for many, if not most people. According to the D-Action project at Grassrootshealth, about 51% of people they've tested are below normal, which they consider to be above 40 ng/ml (I think you should be above 60, and I try to keep mine above 80). But, consider, these are the results of people who are concerned about their levels. I shudder to think what it must be for those unaware, using sunscreen and clothing to avoid sun exposure, and relying on fortified milk.

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Another piece of the puzzle hit the newsstands, today.

A new study on nutrition and health shows vitamin D can significantly reduce the risk of several types of cancer.

William B. Grant, director of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco, reviewed and summarized the ecological studies of solar ultraviolet B (UVB), vitamin D and cancer since 2000. The strongest associations between vitamin D from the sun and cancer were found with colon and breast cancers, but links have also been found with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, ovarian cancer and kidney cancer.

The findings provide strong evidence that vitamin D status plays an important role in controlling the outcome of cancer. Grant believes the support for UVB-vitamin D-cancer theory is scientifically strong enough to warrant use of vitamin D as a component of treatment in cancer prevention.

Back to Grasstrootshealth, there's more. This is a 5-minute video interview of Cedric Garland, Dr. P.H., who has just published a paper in the Annals of Epidemiology essentially showing the same thing. Unfortunately, there's no abstract for the paper, and no ability to purchase as it's for print subscribers only, which seems like the dumbest thing in the world, but whatever…

I have featured the work of Dr. Garland and others previously, the most notable being these three posts on the epidemiology of cancer and type 1 diabetes, with lots of charts and figures, so be sure to review those if you haven't seen them before.

Vitamin D Deficiency and All Cancer

Melanoma, Sun, and Its Synthetic Defeat (Sunscreen)

Vitamin D Deficiency and Type 1 Diabetes

For those wondering about supplementation, see part 4 of my series on vitamin supplementation. And for more posts on vitamin D in general, see here.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Ted Hutchinson on April 21, 2009 at 15:02

    Consider getting your vitamin D3 from sun exposure. The best ratio of UVB<>UVA occurs around midday, but anytime when your shadow is shorter than you are tall will do. For a Caucasian pale skin 20 ~ 30 minutes full body prone NON BURNING exposure should be sufficient. The least tanned areas produce more Vitamin D3 than regularly exposed skin.
    Be careful not to wash/shower immediately after sunbathing as the D3 is made near the surface of the skin and it would be a pity to dissolve it in soap and wash it away.

    You may also want to consider applying Vitamin D3 directly to your skin. Either in a creme like this
    or you could dissolve the contents of a Bio Tech Pharmacal D3 capsule in some food grade massage oil. (the covers slide apart to release a fine white powder)

    Remember on it's own Vitamin D3 is inert. It requires 2 hydroxylations before it gets converted to the active metabolite.

    10,000iu/daily is regarded as a safe upper limit.

  2. David on April 21, 2009 at 14:15

    I took Vitamin D (1000IU) for a week or so and began to feel queasy and sick. I also got a metallic taste in my mouth. Any ideas as to what causes this and what I can do to use the supplement but avoid these unpleasant side-effects?

  3. Ted Hutchinson on April 21, 2009 at 14:47

    I hope all will watch all the video's in the Grassrootshealth series, those who are short of time may find it quicker to download the slides used in the presentations from here.
    I am very concerned about the impact of low levels of vitamin d on cognitive function particularly in the elderly but also the importance of
    maintaining optimal 25(OH)D status throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
    This PDF provides a reasonably good summary of the state of knowledge at the end of last year.
    Does Vitamin D Make the World Go ‘Round’?

  4. Kiran on April 21, 2009 at 15:24

    Consider adding taking some vit A (cod liver oil) & K2 supplements. Perhaps temporarily suspending vitamin D until it no longer makes you sick.

    I used to have a negative reaction to vit D too. It's a sign of deficiency in A & K2.

    I can't find the link at the moment, but I believe vitamin D depletes K2 when you're deficient in vitamin A.

  5. Aaron Blaisdell on April 21, 2009 at 16:50

    I used to take D3 in gelcap, but found it is cheaper to take it in the drops that Carlson makes. They are stated to be about 2k IU per drop and I take about three drops a day mixed in with my morning yogurt. I also take 1/4 teaspoon of high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil which also has D3 and about 125% RDA of Vitamin A. Once or twice a week I put a drop of K2 from Thorne in something I'm eating, usually a meat broth.

  6. Erik on April 21, 2009 at 18:10

    In drop form, is the D3 still fat-based? I was under the impression that the oil/gel caps were best because D3 is fat soluble.

    I have a fussy wife with an aversion to pills (understandable), and the drops would be helpful.

  7. Aaron Blaisdell on April 21, 2009 at 20:47

    The D3 (Cholecalciferol) is put in a medium of fractionated coconut oil, so yes they appear to be fat soluble. I put it in yogurt (or milk), but sometimes put it in my daughter's apple sauce since then I KNOW she'll consume it all. The drops are so small, odorless, and tasteless, and thus practically undetectable which makes them a great addition to any meal for picky kids.

  8. Richard Nikoley on April 21, 2009 at 15:08

    I think it does, Ted. We're all children of the sun, including plants.

    Richard Nikoley

  9. Richard Nikoley on April 21, 2009 at 15:14

    I've been at 6k and tested 125 right after returning fr a week in Puerto Vallarta where I was getting 2-3 hrs of mid day per day in swimsuit. A few weeks later I was down to 85, but zero sun, just the same 6k.

    Now we have sun here in CA and I'm getting 30-45 m per day, so have reduced to 4k and will test again mid May.

    Richard Nikoley

  10. Tony W on April 21, 2009 at 23:07

    Great info. I will try to get more sun.

  11. Richard Nikoley on April 21, 2009 at 16:43

    Were you takingbD2 or D3, and in what form tablet or gel cap?

    I take 6k IU per day, as does my wife and many in my family. No adverse effects. We take D3 in gel cap, as outlined in Pt 4 of the vitamin supplement post.

    Richard Nikoley

  12. Monica on April 21, 2009 at 16:55

    Richard, thanks for your continued blogging on vitamin D. This is such a critical issue.

    The mainstream medical community is waking up. I am currently writing a needs assessment for an educational program for doctors on the link between vitamin D and asthma. I asked them to consider this educational issue last Oct., and it fell on deaf ears. As soon as one of the docs came back from a national conference on asthma and allergies he mentioned this to the education dept. It was a very hot topic. Once I'm done with this one, I will push for more assessments on vitamin D and the other "diseases of civilization". There are quite a few papers out there already on the link between vitamin D and asthma.

    Kudos to Grassrootshealth for offering CME credits to physicians for vitamin D education — and for getting ALL this information into the hands of the public, too.

  13. David on April 22, 2009 at 04:57

    I was taking D3 in the form of a white tablet.

  14. CL on April 22, 2009 at 08:03

    What's the consensus on tanning booths if sun is not an option?

  15. David on April 22, 2009 at 09:36

    Ok I'll try the gel tabs. Thanks.

  16. mrnelson on April 22, 2009 at 13:59

    I'm big on getting sun, and am pretty convinced it's good for you, but I have some niggling doubts about taking vitamin D. Are you aware of any intervention studies showing that its beneficial? I know the epidemiological studies are strong, but I'm concerned about taking such a powerful steroid precursor.

  17. Richard Nikoley on April 22, 2009 at 08:50

    Mercola sells tanning panels and he's big on health and D. I go to a salon from time to time myself. Probably twice per week 12-15 minutes is max I'd consider safe.

  18. Richard Nikoley on April 22, 2009 at 08:56

    I forget where I referenced it, but it's in one of my vitamin D posts. Anyway, Dr. William Davis has found that D in pill form is very unreliable.

    If you search for Carlson Labs, they make a number of oil based products, both in drop and tiny gel caps. I have both. I'd suggest giving that a try.

    Most stuff I see now recommends 5k IU per day on average and a new paper that just came out (I'll blog about it later) indicates that there's no risk of toxicity even up to 10k IU per day.

    Richard Nikoley

  19. Richard Nikoley on April 22, 2009 at 08:58

    I'd suggest you get your D tested (25(OH)D). You want to be above 60 ng/ml. For most people, it takes an average of 5K IU per day to get to those levels, unless they're young and get lots of sun. As you age, you begin to lose the ability to synthesize via sunlight.

    Also, don't wash with soap after. The D is the oil on your skin and is absorbed over some hours after sun exposure.

  20. Sue on April 22, 2009 at 19:24

    David, maybe the white tables also contain certain excipients that don't agree with you?

  21. Sue on April 22, 2009 at 19:30

    oops – meant tablets NOT tables!

  22. Richard Nikoley on April 23, 2009 at 08:27

    There was one I blogged about some time ago where women were given 1000 IU I think and saw something like a 60% reduction in breast cancer.

  23. Valda Redfern on April 24, 2009 at 15:19

    David, I wonder if the metallic taste might just have been due to low carbs – that's the way I know when I'm well into ketosis. However, I've never taken Vitamin D in tablet form (I take D3 softgels), so I wouldn't know whether or not tablets also cause a metallic taste in the mouth.

    Richard, thanks for all the fascinating information on vitamin D – especially useful for those of us who live at latitude 51 and above. I used the blood test supplied via the Grassroots website and would recommend it to anyone as a hassle-free way of checking vitamin D levels.

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