Vitamin D ‘substantially’ reduce cancer risk, major study says

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June 8, 2007  
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InspireHealth release – Vancouver-based InspireHealth – Canada’s leader in integrated cancer care and prevention – today announced that a newly-released U.S. study, which provides evidence that Vitamin D substantially reduces the risk of cancer development, is the most important cancer prevention study ever published.

The study released today by researchers from Creighton University in Nebraska is a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial – the highest standard in medical research, and is being published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“The study shows that in women over 55, Vitamin D supplementation may be able to reduce cancer incidence by 60 per cent. That’s a staggering finding,” said Dr. Hal Gunn, M.D., Co-Founder and CEO of InspireHealth. “Translated into numbers, more than 35,000 Canadian women could be saved from getting cancer each year. If Vitamin D is helpful for younger women and men as well – which seems likely based on other evidence – the numbers are even greater. This is remarkable for something as simple as Vitamin D supplementation.”

Physicians at InspireHealth, aware of the growing body of research supporting the use of Vitamin D in recent years, have been prescribing Vitamin D for cancer prevention and treatment for the last 10 years since InspireHealth’s founding in 1997. “Over the last 15 years, there has been a growing body of research showing that Vitamin D plays a very important role in the prevention of cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, lung, stomach, bladder, pancreas, uterus and ovary,” said Dr. Gunn. “This new study proves that link, and demonstrates that Vitamin D supplementation may provide a simple means to prevent the majority of cancer cases.”

“In short, this study clearly indicates for the first time, we may have a simple and effective means to prevent the majority of cancer cases, and put an end to the cancer epidemic that has plagued the western world for the last century,” said Dr. Gunn. “The Vitamin D study is a landmark study in cancer prevention.”

The researchers, who were originally studying the effects of Vitamin D and calcium on osteoporosis, found that this combination (vitamin D 1,000 IU per day and calcium 1400-1500 mg per day) substantially reduced the incidence of cancer (by 60 per cent) during the four-year period of the study. Researchers found that Vitamin D provided even greater protection when used longer term – a 77 per cent reduction in cancer incidence after one year of Vitamin D use.

Assuming Vitamin D has a similar benefit in all age groups and both genders, this may mean that up to 15,000 cases of cancer in BC alone could be prevented each year, and 123,000 cases in Canada, by simply ensuring that all Canadians take Vitamin D supplements on an ongoing basis.

Baseline and treatment-induced Vitamin D levels were found to be strong predictors of cancer risk in this study, providing further evidence of the value of Vitamin D in cancer prevention.

“It is important that all physicians and Canadians are aware of the results of this study and adequately supplement with Vitamin D”, said Dr. Gunn. “Vitamin D has many other health benefits besides cancer prevention and is important in the promotion and maintenance of optimal health and immune system function.”

“An important challenge in incorporating health-related research into medical practice is that much of this health-related research – such as Vitamin D supplementation, nutrition and exercise – gets ‘lost’ in the medical literature. At InspireHealth, we have created a Research Information System – the first of its kind in the world – that tracks world-wide research on integrative approaches to cancer prevention and treatment, enabling physicians and patients from around the world to access this research free-of-charge simply by logging on to our website at,” Dr. Gunn added.

InspireHealth, Canada’s leader in integrative cancer prevention and treatment, was founded to help people with cancer explore the many ways they can support their own health before, during and after cancer treatment. InspireHealth is a non-profit society funded by the Lotte and John Hecht Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Provincial Government and other foundations, corporations and individuals. It has served over 4,000 patients to date and aims to increase that number to 2,000 patients annually by 2012. InspireHealth has working partnerships with the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BC/Yukon Chapter, the BC Cancer Agency, and the BC Foundation for Prostate Research.