Skip to comments.Twisting The Record On Vitamin D
Posted on 12/09/2007 9:52:12 PM PST by Coleus
The article was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in early November 2007 (although news of it broke a week earlier). The researchers were quoted as saying that the findings in colorectal cancer were consistent with other studies of vitamin D. On the other hand, the study did not establish a more generalized link between high levels of vitamin D and a reduction in the overall risk of dying from various cancers, including those of the lung, prostate, and breast.
There are important questions about the methodology used in this study, issues that may have limited the researchers' ability to detect some of the positive effects of vitamin D. But even if the methodology and conclusions of the Freedman study were correct, it is not so much the results that are disappointing, but the spin that the mainstream media put on the findings. The reaction of the media to the study revealed in a stark way their deeply ingrained prejudice against nutritional solutions to cancer.
The Reuters news agency did report the study correctly and with a properly nuanced understanding of its positive and negative aspects. The headline of the Reuters report read: "Vitamin D Cuts Colon Cancer Death Risk." The article, by writer Will Dunham, began: "People with higher vitamin D levels are less likely to die of colorectal cancer, researchers said on Tuesday, but the vitamin does not appear to affect the chances of dying from any other type of cancer" (Oct 31, 2007). This is a fair summary of the paper's conclusions. One other source, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., or CDC, also got it right: "Vitamin D Cuts Colorectal Cancer Risk."
But most news outlets that I saw emphasized the negative aspect of the findings, that vitamin D, as one put it, was no "magic bullet" for cancer (as if anyone said it was). Here are some of the headlines of stories that were published hours after the news of the study first broke:
According to the study, "Colorectal cancer mortality was inversely related to serum 25(OH)D level." (Serum 25(OH)D is a standard biochemical marker that is used to determine blood levels of vitamin D.) Participants in the study who had 25(OH)D levels of 80 nmol/L or higher had a 72 percent risk reduction in colorectal cancer compared to people who had levels lower than 50 nmol/L (Freedman 2007).
The American Cancer Society anticipates that in 2007 a total of 52,180 Americans will die of colorectal cancer, representing approximately 10 percent of all cancer deaths (Cancer Facts and Figures 2007). If you prevented 72 percent of these deaths you would save 37,570 lives each year. To comprehend this graphically, the seating capacity of Fenway Park in Boston is 38,805. Thus, you could nearly fill this stadium to capacity with the people whose deaths from colorectal cancer could be avoided each and every year. Worldwide, the United Nations estimates that there are 500,000 deaths from colorectal cancer each year (W.H.O. World Cancer Report 2003). A 72 percent reduction would mean 360,000 lives saved each year. That's a lot of lives saved and a lot of misery avoided!
There is some disagreement over how much vitamin D is necessary in order to raise the blood level to 80 nmol/L. As a general rule, the government advocates the intake of 400 IU vitamin D per day. But some Canadian experts feel that a minimum of 800 IU/day to 1000 IU/day may be needed, with up to 2000 IU/day to 4000 IU/day in special circumstances (Canadian Pediatric Society 2007).
One hundred tablets of 800 IU of vitamin D can be purchased on the Internet for under $2.00 ($1.94). Thus, most people could supply themselves with sufficient amounts of supplemental vitamin D for 2¢ per day, or around $7.50 per year. By comparison, Leonard Saltz, M.D., an expert on colon cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, N.Y., has estimated that the cost of chemotherapy for advanced colon cancer is approximately $250,000. Thus the cost of treating just one case of colon cancer would be enough to prevent death from colon cancer in over 30,000 cases. This is a perspective that somehow failed to come across in the vast majority of recent media stories about vitamin D and cancer.
Canadian Pediatric Society: Vitamin D supplementation: Recommendations for Canadian mothers and infants.
Freedman DM, Looker AC, Chang SC, et al. Prospective study of serum vitamin D and cancer mortality in the United States. J Natl Cancer Inst 2007 Nov 7;99(21):1594-602.
The news and other items in this newsletter are intended for informational purposes only. Nothing in this newsletter is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
more on vitamin D
If I understand your objection, it boils down to that the original study is valid, but the MSM “misleads by omission” in subsequent news?
The people that get their vitamin D from the sun are most often active, e.g., jogging.
Activity would seem (to me) to be more effective in the health of the bowel than even a daily dose of sunlight's vitamin D.
There are many people that don't get 10 minutes of sun per day. In winter they go to and from work in the dark. Supplements are cheap and would be effective.
After the last thread on Vitamen D and Flu/pnemonia, I trapsed off to Walmart and bought $4 bottle of Vitamen D tabs 1000 units.
I took 1 per day for a week and the first of December increased the dose to 2 per day or the 2000 units noted in the prison study.
I feel good, not just well, but chipper. There is a vitality and abence of lethargy. We’ll see about the flu
Thanks for the ping. Very interesting.
Important also to remember that correlation does not equal causation. That is, vitamin D may not stave off their cancer as much as an aggressive cancer might reduce patient vitamin D level faster. (I also note that there are different *kinds* of vitamin D, which may behave very differently. For example, “D3” is unique in having several medicinal properties that other versions of vitamin D do not. Fortunately on supplement bottles, they usually note what form of vitamin D it is.)
Cancer is almost an intelligent enemy, that it, it *adapts* when attacked, to protect itself. Truly an eerie phenomenon.
For this reason, it is now being recommended that when they attack a cancer, they do so with three different techniques at the same time, overwhelming its ability to adjust.
So be wary of a “magic bullet”. You can’t just kill Dracula with a stake through the heart. You also have to behead him and bury him at a crossroads, as it were.
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