We get almost all our vitamin D from the sun, and The Intelligent Optimist has long advocated moderate sun exposure to maintain healthy levels of this essential nutrient. Lack of vitamin D has been linked to a wide range of chronic health problems from allergies to osteoporosis and high blood pressure. Now a large-scale study of cancer patients in China has also shown that our vitamin D levels also play a role in determining whether we survive from cancer.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai analyzed the vitamin D levels and survival rates of over 17,000 patients with specific forms of cancer including breast, colorectal and lymphoma. They found that for every 10 nmol/L increase in vitamin D levels in circulating blood at the time a patient was diagnosed with cancer, their likelihood of dying from any cause dropped by 4%.
How does this magic work? Laboratory studies suggest that vitamin D can act directly on tumor cells to slow down their growth. Plus, its ability to stimulate the immune system and support healthy biological functions can also help cancer patients cope with the physical stress of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, thus reducing their risk of complications. With so many of us enjoying the first warm days after a long winter, what more reason do you need to enjoy the sunshine?
(Source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2014; jc.2013-4320.)