Protect against colon cancer with the sunshine vitamin
It's been a rough winter here in the Northeast. I even had to close my clinic for a "snow day"!
After all, there are just some days when it's not worth going outside in the cold and risking falls and treacherous traffic conditions.
But that means that every winter, I watch the health of my patients decline as they spend more and more time indoors. It's like clockwork!
I'm curious to see whether March will come in like a lamb or a lion next week. I don't know about you, but I can't wait for longer days with more sunshine.
And you know what that means: more of that miracle sunshine vitamin, vitamin D!
If you've been reading my eTips for a while now, you know that vitamin D is important to your bone health as well as your mood. But researchers have also found that it could keep you safe from colon cancer.
It turns out that patients with high vitamin D levels find their risk of colorectal cancer slashed by a whopping 90 percent.
Now that's big news, because colon cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the U.S., and is the second most fatal. It kills 50,000 people in the U.S. every single year.
Past studies had already shown how vitamin D can help you avoid certain types of cancers, including pancreatic; but this study actually shows evidence that vitamin D can activate an immune response against tumor cells.
"Laboratory research suggests that vitamin D boosts immune system function by activating T cells that recognize and attack cancer cells," said lead author Shuji Ogino of Dana-Farber, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women's Hospital.
That means that vitamin D can actually interact with your immune system to raise your body's defenses against cancer.
Now, when it's looking downright apocalyptic outside, you're not going to be able to soak up much sunshine for your body to convert to vitamin D. That means you've got to get it from somewhere else.
But if you think you're getting enough by drinking milk or eating dairy, the truth is there's NO WAY that milk and food can get our levels of vitamin D to where they need to be. And any foods that claim to be rich in vitamin D have actually been fortified with a synthetic version.
Synthetic vitamin D replacement doesn't measure up to sun exposure OR the over-the-counter natural version of vitamin D, called vitamin D3. In fact, the synthetic vitamin D is only a third as potent as bioidentical D3, and it also stops working much sooner.
As soon as the weather improves, try to get at least 10 minutes of direct sunlight every day -- without sunblock, big funny hats, or long sleeves. After that, you can cover up so you won't burn.