Welcome to Our Healing Roots, a blog exploring natural medicine that returns us to the roots of health and wellbeing. Our Healing Roots, LLC, is a private natural healthcare practice and experiential learning center that advocates the safe use of integrated, natural medicine. Many healing ways have gone by the wayside with the advent of conventional medicine. While it is important to receive professional medical advice for serious conditions, there are many things we can do at home to prevent disease and maintain our health. The Latin word for doctor is docere, which means to be a teacher. Our Healing Roots wholehearted embraces the importance of teaching in healthcare, so that people feel empowered about their health and wellbeing. More information about this business can be found at www.ourhealingroots.net.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Colorectal Cancer: The Role of Vitamin D in Risk and Mortality
With the new year, I am working to clear my clutter and organize the massive amount of research papers I've collected my naturopathic medicine and oncology training. I look forward to sharing some of the interesting articles with you that I come across in this process.
Today, I begin with an article about vitamin D3 and colon cancer from the Journal of Clinical Oncology from June 20, 2008 entitled "Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels in Survival in Patients with Colorectal Cancer" by Ng, et al (Vol. 26, Number 16, pages 2984-2991).
Vitamin D3 has been getting a LOT of press for the past several years. When I started my residency in 2007, it was still the hot new thing to test and address in medical practice. Since then, it has become a commonplace test for most physicians. In the field of cancer care, vitamin D deficiency is associated with increase risk of several cancer types. Vitamin D3 has been found to help with healthy cell differentiation, prevention to tumor cell proliferation, apoptosis (programmed death of abnormal cells), and anti-angiogenesis (helps prevent tumor cells from developing a blood supply to feed the tumor). As a natural healthcare provider, I commonly recommend that my clients get their 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels tested, and I recommend vitamin D3 supplementation taken with food if levels are low.
Previous studies demonstrated that higher vitamin D levels can decrease risk of getting colorectal cancer, but what if you are diagnosed with the disease? Will it improve your survival rate? Our study of the day in fact showed that higher levels of vitamin D3 (about >30 ng/mL) resulted in fewer deaths from colorectal cancer. Researchers Ng, et al looked at the landmark Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow Up Study. As part of the study, participants had their vitamin D levels tested and were watched for several years to see what diseases developed and what they died of. In these prospective studies, 304 participants developed colorectal cancer, 96 of which died from the cancer. These participants were divided into 4 groups based on highest to lowest vitamin D levels. The lowest group had vitamin D levels around 6.0-22.6 ng/mL, whereas the highest group had vitamin D levels ranging from 29.0-70.0. The group with the highest vitamin D levels (in most cases 5 years before the diagnosis of cancer was even made) had a significantly lower mortality rate from colorectal cancer.
If you haven't had your vitamin D levels test, consider talking to your primary care physician about this test at your next wellness visit.