One of the first books I picked up when I got diagnosed was Cancer: 50 Essential Things to Do. In it, Greg Anderson recommends taking 5000 IU a day of vitamin D3 if you have cancer. Greg also outlines the incredible amount of research linking vitamin D and cancer and his conclusion was pretty punchy. He says “This much I believe to be true: with vitamin D supplementation we can now prevent nearly 80 percent of all breast cancers and over 50 percent of all prostate cancers… It is also clear to me that vitamin D significantly helps in making cancer treatments more effective”. My reaction to reading that was “whoa, no way!”. Your body makes vitamin D from sunlight, and I’ve craved sunlight for as long as I could remember. I even have one of those day light UV lights to get sunlight in the winter. Could I have been dealing with a vitamin D deficiency this whole time without knowing it?
Around the same time, a nurse at Sunnybrook hospital where I was getting my cancer treatment also recommended vitamin D, and so I had to look it up. And of course, as usual, there’s differing opinions out there. The National Cancer Institute fact sheet clearly states that there isn’t enough research to know for sure whether vitamin D can prevent cancer. But the Canadian Cancer Society website says “there is evidence that vitamin D may reduce the risk of some types of cancer, particularly colorectal and breast cancers” and breastcancer.org says “research suggests that women with low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of breast cancer”. Reading that, I was convinced to try it out. Partly because I had breast cancer, but also, that’s as strong as a recommendation comes for a supplement, because it’s so hard to do controlled research on things that people eat, especially sunlight is a confounding factor. And by the way, vitamin D is the only supplement that my nurses ever recommended, along with calcium.
So I started taking around 3-5k IU of vitamin D a day and then went to my doctor to get tested. Even with the supplementation I was barely on the low end of normal vitamin D levels, so I’ve kept up taking vitamin D ever since. Of course, I can’t prove that it’s helped me battle cancer, but I strongly believe that it did. So my tip, if you’re battling cancer, is to look into vitamin D. I’ll leave the links to the research below for you to check out and make your own conclusions.
Now if you get your vitamin D levels tested and come back low, it’s super easy to go out and get some sun to raise the levels. It’s almost impossible to overdose on vitamin D from sunlight. Otherwise, you can eat foods that are high in vitamin D but there really aren’t that many out there. There’s fish and eggs, and also milk, soy, and yogurt fortified with vitamin D. And that’s about it. Add to it the fact that many of us live in areas where winters are long and there just isn’t enough sunlight, and no wonder so many of us are deficient. Supplementing them is a great idea. I personally love these types of drops which contain 1000 IU per drop. They’re completely tasteless so you can just add it to anything you’re eating, or just lick it off a spoon. Just be careful if you are supplementing, because you CAN overdose
Canadian Cancer Society says “Current evidence suggests that taking a supplement of 1000 IU of vitamin D a day may help reduce your risk of cancer with the least chance of harm”. I totally encourage you to take charge of your own health, and bring vitamin D up with your healthcare team. And that’s my tip of the week to help you fight cancer!