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Vitamin D and Cancer


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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Recent research shows up to 50 percent of kids and adults in the United States are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency. It's not to be taken lightly -- a lack of vitamin D has been linked to a whole host of diseases. And research continues to show it has a significant effect on cancer.

Dr. Donald Trump, M.D., medical oncologist and President and CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., has been treating prostate cancer for 32 years. He's noticed something disturbing.

"Seventy percent of my patients have vitamin D deficiency," Dr. Trump said.

The sunshine vitamin is an emerging area of cancer research.

"Low vitamin D levels are one of the factors that contribute to the development of a number of cancers," Dr. Trump explained.

Vitamin D and cancer

Recent research shows up to 50 percent of kids and adults in the United States are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency.

A study in post-menopausal women shows high doses of vitamin D cut the risk of cancer by 60 percent. Another found 72 percent of lung cancer patients with high vitamin D levels who had a summer surgery were alive five years later, while just 29 percent of those with low vitamin D and winter surgeries were.

"I am encouraged by that because we obviously need things that are useful in lung cancer," Dr. Trump added.

Five years ago, Susan Graham was diagnosed with lung cancer -- the same cancer that killed her mother and sister.

"I got past the ‘poor me’ and you know, I said no, this is not going to get me. It took my family, it's not going to get me," Graham said.

She's cancer-free today and is grateful for every minute of her life. Now, she hopes to join a new study on vitamin D’s effect in high-risk lung cancer patients.

"It seems very promising," Graham continued.

A new government study found people with more vitamin D in their blood were 72-percent less likely to die of colorectal cancer than those with low vitamin D. But this study also found vitamin D levels in the blood played no role in the risk of dying of cancer in general. Is vitamin D a magic bullet for cancer? The issue is far from settled.

Still, Susan is encouraged. And it's easy to see why. She has a tattoo that depicts family members who have had cancer. Eight in all -- she's the only survivor.

"I want to give back because I was one of the fortunate ones and I know how terrifying it is," Graham said.

Evidence of vitamin D's powerful effects continues to pour in. Another recent study shows vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. With more research, Dr. Trump believes the government will raise the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D.

For more information:

Roswell Park Cancer Institute

(877) ASK-RPCI (877-275-7724)


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