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April 28, 2007

Vitamin D Casts Cancer Prevention In New Lght


For decades, researchers have puzzled over why rich northern countries have cancer rates many times higher than those in developing countries -- and many have laid the blame on dangerous pollutants spewed out by industry.

But research into vitamin D is suggesting both a plausible answer to this medical puzzle and a heretical notion: that cancers and other disorders in rich countries aren't caused mainly by pollutants but by a vitamin deficiency known to be less acute or even non-existent in poor nations.

Those trying to brand contaminants as the key factor behind cancer in the West are "looking for a bogeyman that doesn't exist," argues Reinhold Vieth, professor at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and one of the world's top vitamin D experts. Instead, he says, the critical factor "is more likely a lack of vitamin D."

What's more, researchers are linking low vitamin D status to a host of other serious ailments, including multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, influenza, osteoporosis and bone fractures among the elderly.

Not everyone is willing to jump on the vitamin D bandwagon just yet. Smoking and some pollutants, such as benzene and asbestos, irrefutably cause many cancers.

But perhaps the biggest bombshell about vitamin D's effects is about to go off. In June, U.S. researchers will announce the first direct link between cancer prevention and the sunshine vitamin. Their results are nothing short of astounding. Continue reading here ...

Vitamin D is formed in the skin of animals and humans by the action of short-wave ultraviolet light, the so-called fast-tanning sun rays. Precursors of vitamin D in the skin are converted into cholecalciferol, a weak form of vitamin D3, which is then transported to the liver and kidneys where enzymes convert it to 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol, the more potent form of vitamin D3.

Fat-soluble vitamin D supplements are available in two forms. Vitamin D3 is believed to exhibit the most potent cancer- inhibiting properties and is the preferred form of the vitamin. More than 10 substances belong to a group of steroid compounds that exhibit vitamin D activity. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), derived from plants and yeast, is a form of the vitamin commonly added to milk and some nutritional supplements. The first vitamin D to be discovered was a crude mixture called vitamin D1; it is not available as a supplement.

Although the list of vitamin-D-rich foods is limited, it is acquired from foods such as egg yolks, butter, cod liver oil and from cold-water fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel.

Posted by Richard at April 28, 2007 6:29 PM

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