By: Marc Sorenson–
A 2010 study from France has shown that women who were exposed to a combination of sunlight and dietary vitamin D had up to a 45 percent reduced risk of contracting breast cancer, according to Cancer Epidemiol, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The researchers noted that high dietary vitamin D by itself did not correlate to a reduced risk of breast cancer, whereas sunlight exposure alone did correlate to a lowered risk.
This research should come as no surprise, as there is miniscule vitamin D in the typical diet. For example, the typical 3½-ounce piece of farmed salmon contains about 175 International Units of vitamin D; 8 ounces of fortified milk 100 IU; and 8 ounces fortified orange juice 100 IU. The amounts typically derived from eggs, oils and margarine is negligible.
It is now believed by many experts in the vitamin D field that 4,000-5,000 IU of vitamin D supplementation is necessary for optimal health, so it can be seen that trying to optimize breast health with the paltry 400-500 IU from diet is like trying to color the ocean with a cup of tomato paste.
Conversely, 20 minutes of full-body exposure to summer sunlight at noon can produce as much as 20,000 IU, according to a 2005 Journal of Nutrition article, showing that sunlight correlates far better to lowered breast cancer risk than does dietary vitamin D.
However, most people are not actively seeking the sunlight and are not even close to producing 20,000 IU. In the French breast cancer study, it was probably the combination of both sunlight-produced vitamin D and dietary vitamin D that sufficiently increased blood levels to a threshold that triggered vitamin D’s cancer protection mechanisms, which are numerous.
Other research including a 2007 study by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has shown that when vitamin D supplementation is more than 1,100 IU daily, there is a profound correlation to a lowered risk — from 60-77 percent — of all cancers in women.
As to sunlight, Dr. Esther John and colleagues conducted research on the sun-exposure habits of women and correlated those habits to the risk of developing breast cancer. Those women who had the greatest exposure to sunlight were 65 percent less likely to develop breast cancer.
Should we then shun the sunlight? This newest study is another in a long series of vitamin D/cancer research that has shown a striking lowering of breast cancer incidence with higher sunlight exposure and greater vitamin D levels in the blood. The sunlight is one of St. George’s greatest assets and should be embraced, not shunned.
After the Institute of Medicine made their inanely low recommendations for vitamin D supplementation — 600 IU daily for all ages — it is good to see that research belying that foolishness continues to surface.
Sunlight exposure is the most natural way to produce vitamin D and if supplements are going to be used when sunlight is not available, a minimum of 2,000-4000 IU daily is necessary to optimize blood levels for best health. Check with your physician before making changes in sunlight exposure or vitamin D intake.
Marc Sorenson is a resident of St. George. He and his wife, Vicki, founded National Institute of Fitness, in Ivins. They helped thousands of people from all over the world with fitness, weight issues and degenerative diseases. Marc Sorenson received his doctorate from Brigham Young University. He is an author, speaker and founder of the Sunlight Institute, as well as executive director of the Vitamin D Health Initiative.
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