Normally, I wouldn’t bore you all with yet another “low vitamin D levels increase the risk of X disease” blog post. However, I just had to share this one because of the strength of the association.
In general, vitamin D seems to have its greatest protection against what are called “long latency” disease. This means that the condition, like cancer, actually develops over many years, if not decades. So supplementation of vitamin D is not going to result in anything near an immediate benefit. Certainly there are exceptions, like improvement of respiratory conditions such as a lowered risk of infection or improvements in the symptoms of asthma.
Cancer is consider a long-latency disease and low vitamin D levels have been linked to many types of cancers. Some show a very strong protection and some very little. This particular study looked at the risk of breast cancer in a population of Middle Eastern women (Saudi Arabians) who traditionally have darker skin and thus would be more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency.
Here’s what they found:
- Mean age was 47.8 years of age.
- Average body mass index was 30.0 (below 25 is ideal).
- Those women with breast cancer cases had lower vitamin D levels (9.4 ng/mL) than controls (15.4 ng).
- Those with the lowest levels of vitamin D (<10 ng/mL) had a 610% higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Those in the next lowest group (≥10 to <20 ng/mL) had a 400% higher risk.
These are NOT paltry numbers. Instead, they are serious game changers. As usual, researchers looked at normal levels of vitamin D, not OPTIMAL levels. Optimal levels are considered 60-100. Makes you wonder just how much greater the risk was between women with optimal levels of vitamin D and those with the lowest levels. The risk spread likely would have been even more dramatic.
While the nature of medical literature never speaks in absolutes, with the addition of this study to previous studies on the higher rates of many types of cancers with low vitamin D levels, I would strongly suggest that, if you donate to any “cancer cure” organizations, if information like this is not readily disseminated through the organization, that you should absolutely give your money elsewhere because that organization is NOT driven by a desire to help but rather by some other hidden agenda.