"Treat the disease, you win some, you lose some. Treat the patient, you always win."
~Patch Adams~

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Vitamin D may lower risk of deathly prostate cancer

Good morning, everyone! A rainy, cloudy Sunday here in NC, so I am having an "in" day to catch up on little projects around the house and read my newsfeed for blog articles. 

It has been said that most men will get prostate cancer if they live long enough.  Whether that is true or not is still the subject of much debate, but as I moved into my 50's, it suddenly seemed like every week another one of my male friends/acquaintances was diagnosed with the disease.  The treatment success rate is quite high (over 90%), but a cancer diagnosis is very frightening for the patient and his family.

Read MSNBC.com's article about the mortality risk of prostate cancer and Vitamin D levels.  An observational study, conducted at Harvard University, showed that men with the highest levels of Vitamin D were 57% less likely to die from prostate cancer than those with the lowest rates of Vitamin D.

A couple of points:

No link was found between Vitamin D levels and having prostate cancer, only the mortality rate.

The article states that according to the National Institute of Health, getting approximately 30 minutes of sun exposure twice a week, between the hours of 10 am to 3 pm, is "sufficient" to get to and maintain adequate Vitamin D levels.  That is a huge generalization for the entire country, and obviously some parts of the country get far more sun than others (I'm from Upstate NY, where we barely saw the sun from mid-October to mid-April......now you know why I live in NC!)

As we age, our bodies to not process the Vitamin D from the sun as well as they did when we were younger, and most holistic/integrative/bioidentical hormone physicians (including my own) will tell you that no matter how much sun exposure you get, even if you live in a very sunny part of the country, your body is not going to maintain an optimal level of Vitamin D by sun exposure alone.  In my own case, I take 5000 IUs of Vitamin D daily, and in the winter I alternate one day of 5000, next day 10,000 IUs, and I still struggle to get my levels to what Dr. Carr considers an optimal level.  There is much debate over what is an adequate or optimal level, I have my Vitamin D levels checked at least twice a year, and Dr. Carr likes his patients to be in the 70-100 ng/ml range.  I'm happy over the winter if my level stays above 60, in the summer it's a little easier for me to reach the 70 ng/ml level because I do water aerobics about 4-5 days a week in an outdoor pool.  Even then (and trust me, I am as "brown as gingerbread" (quote from one of my friends) by mid July, I have never been above 70 ng/ml.  My experience is not much different from most people over 50. 

As always, I caution you to check with your doctor, but if he/she is reluctant to order a Vitamin D blood test, you need to advocate for yourself and insist on one.  Make sure that if you are taking Vitamin D3 (better absorption), that you are taking a high quality vitamin.  Brands from the big box stores often do not have the amount of vitamin listed, it varies widely.   I take Ortho-Molecular brand, and I get mine through Dr. Carr's office , I think the cost is less than $15 for a 60 day supply.  Good health for far  less than the cost of a week of daily Starbucks!