New findings about cancer, Vitamin D and inflammation make perfect sense

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
  • diabetes
  • 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?

Vitamin D

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)

Omegas

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.

Your homework

Examine your habits.  Are your habits increasing or inhibiting an inflammatory response in your body?



Categories: diet, health, health and wellness, healthy living blogs, nutrition, vitamin supplements

Tags: , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. Thanks, Susan! I just took my first 2000 mg of D3, thanks to your post. I had my first shot of radiation yesterday. I will be getting treatments for the next 5 weeks. I found several articles which say that taking D3 while on radiation therapy IMPROVES the effectiveness of the radiation treatments. Also, taking flax seed helps to reduce the negative side effects while not interfering with the treatment. Keep the informative and entertaining posts coming!
    Cancer Warrior
    http://www.perksofcancer.com

  2. Thanks again for a practical, well thought out post — I now supplement with Omega 3 wild salmon oil, and take 3000 mg of D thanks to your previous post. Keep these helpful posts coming! I wonder if you have any info on Vitamin B12 for us vegan/vegetarians (or did I miss that one?)

    • Thanks for your comment! B12 was mentioned in a comment, but not a post.
      Every vegan nutritionist book I have read says B12 supplementation is a good idea for vegans. B12 is found in microorganisms that are in the dirt and from animal products In the old days, when our veggies weren’t so “clean” we would get enough, but modern veggies don’t give us what we need.

      Recommended intake is 2.4 mcg/day. You will see supplements of 1000 mcg! That is not necessary(although there have been no adverse effects from taking too much)
      Fortified cereals give you plenty of B12, or to be sure (and this is recommended for vegans)take a supplement. Buy 50 mcg and break them in half. 25 mcg/week is plenty as B12 is stored in the liver.
      See more here: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb12/

  3. Thank you! Great article. I have lung tumors that are endocrine (hormone) related. It was discovered I had osteopenia and now osteoporosis and my doctor suggested calcium. She never told me about vitamin D until a blood test revealed low vitamin D levels…which came really late in the process. I wonder if she had told me about vitamin D supplementation and how calcium cannot properly absorb in our systems without it, if my healing from this terrible disease would have been helped earlier rather than later. I have done a lot of study on my orphan disease and believe I will heal my 20 year old tumors through organic fruits, veggies, supplements and enzymes. Vitamin D by the way is not a vitamin but a hormone. I am excited. Probably one of the best things I did for myself is get off of soda pop. I dropped 35 pounds in 6 months without any extra exercise. For me personally I have chosen not to have chemo, radiation or surgery.

So whaddya think?

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