I previously published a post on Vitamin D and its importance in reducing your risk of cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses.
I had also posted on Omega 3 fatty acids and how a lack of Omega 3’s in your diet causes an inflammatory response in your body leading to many diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many more.
Two new findings dated Feb 2012 involving vitamin D, cancer, and inflammation ties both of those posts together nicely.
One was “Inflammatory circuit that triggers breast cancer uncovered”. showing how scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute have shed new light on exactly how the activation of a pair of inflammatory signaling pathways leads to the transformation of normal breast cells to cancer cells.
Another was “How Vitamin D inhibits inflammation”. explaining how researchers at National Jewish Health have discovered specific molecular events by which vitamin D inhibits inflammation.
So, in other words, breast cancer is related to inflammation, and vitamin D inhibits inflammation. This makes perfect sense in light of the fact that a large number of women with breast cancer were found to have very low vitamin D levels. But the inflammatory response is not just limited to breast cancer.
Inflammation is the body’s response to injury or a reaction to something foreign. A bee sting is a good example of localized inflammation. But inflammation can also occur throughout your body and has been proven to play a key role in developing diseases like:
- all types of cancer and and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- heart disease
- multiple sclerosis
- autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis
This kind of inflammation happens at a cellular level. Here’s how.
Many things in the environment (radiation, chemical exposure) and food that you eat (processed foods, chemicals, pesticides) are considered “foreign” to your body. While you may not “feel” or “see” any inflammation when you are exposed to these things, your body produces an “inflammatory response” by secreting chemicals and enzymes to deal with the “invader”. This response is not limited to just one part of your body, like with the bee sting, but is carried out all over. Small occasional exposures will go unnoticed, but constant exposure over time will “tip the scales” of normal cell development to eventually produce abnormal cells…. cancer, or abnormal Beta cells in diabetes, or abnormal cells that line the coronary arteries supplying the heart with blood in heart disease.
It would not be inaccurate to surmise from the findings in the article about inflammation and breast cancer, that the same mechanism is responsible for other diseases as well. So it would make sense that if you ate foods and lived a lifestyle that inhibited the inflammatory response in your body, you could help to avoid these diseases.
How can I use the information in the studies to my benefit?
Make sure you get enough vitamin D.
The recommended dose for vitamin D supplementation established by the US Food and Drug Administration is only 600 mg/day and is one based on doses to prevent osteoporosis…NOT other illnesses. (this was increased in 2010 from 400 mg)
General recommendations for vitamin D supplementation for immunity and wellness is 2000 mg of D3/day (Vitamin D3 is the form that the body uses.) You can easily have your vitamin D level checked with a blood sample. Right now, there are no home tests for vitamin D.
10 minutes a day, 3x/week out in the sun with no sun screen will top up your body’s vitamin D stores. (Dermatologists recommend supplementation in pill form obviously, to avoid skin cancer risk)
Eat foods with a high Omega 3/low Omega 6 content. Please take a moment to get informed about Omegas.
Eat MORE high Omega 3 foods: walnuts, deep greens…kale, spinach, salmon…or take a supplement: fish oil or flax seed oil, at least 1000 mg/day.
Eat LESS Omega 6 foods: corn, beef, dairy, chicken, eggs, polyunsaturated oils like safflower, soybean and others (switch to a mono like olive oil)
Dietary intake ratio of Omega 6:Omega 3 should be 2:1, but the American diet is more like 20:1…..hence the illness epidemic in the USA. You can request a blood test from your doctor to see what your omega 6:3 ratio is, or measure it at home.
Examine your habits. Are your habits increasing or inhibiting an inflammatory response in your body?