Two studies were published recently, two different perspectives on how Vitamin D effects colon cancer, and both point to the importance of this vitamin in our body.

The first study, done by a team of Harvard researchers and presented at an American Society of Clinical Oncology symposium, looked at the vitamin D blood levels of patients with advanced colon cancer and divided them in to two groups based on high or low vitamin D blood levels.

The results showed that the group with the highest levels lived longer and had slower progression of disease than the low level group. In fact, the group with high vitamin D levels lived 8 months longer and the cancer progression slowed by more than 2 months. High levels of Vitamin D seemed to prolong life by as much as one-third, with those patients living an average of 32.6 months as compared to just 24.5 months in the low level group.

The second study is even more significant. What’s better than living longer with colon cancer? Preventing the disease from forming in the first place. In a recent edition of the British medical journal “Gut” analyzes the correlation between hight vitamin D levels and a reduced risk of colon cancer.

The study focuses on Vitamin D’s effect on our bodies immune system; specifically, in the production of T-cells. T-cells, or T lymphocytes, are known to attack tumor cells. This won’t be the last we hear of Vitamin D as there are many on-going studies focusing on how it bolsters our immune system. A simple Google search shows that Vitamin D is linked to improved brain function, reducing obesity, bone health and reduced respiratory infections. 

So, that’s the good news; what is the bad news? Many Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. Although the vitamin is found in some foods, most of the vitamin is produced in our bodies when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D supplements are small, inexpensive and easy to add to your routine. Of course, if you are under the care of a physician, please check with their office before adding taking any supplements.

Another great way to prevent colon cancer is to be sure that you are up to date on your screening colonoscopy. Who should be screened? Any person age 50 or over, age 45 if you are an African-american, should be screened. If you have a strong family history you should discuss the timing with your doctor. 

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