More info on Vitamin deficiency and link to Cancer.

Research once again, and continually, supports the facts that vitamin deficiency is linked to Cancer.

In these and many other articles we find common associations and similar processes that corroborate this link. We know that immune function is dependent on vitamins and minerals for appropriate and optimal function. Many of the most important nutrients have excellent antioxidant properties. Our immune system is responsible for attacking abnormal cells that are, or can become cancers.

It is also well known that free radicals damage cells, tissues and organs and can either create and / or hasten the progression of cancers.

The obvious connection here is that, and research has described this, if we have appropriate levels of vitamins and minerals that we can strengthen our immune response and maximize our fight, and decrease our risk of cancer.

If one were to look up this research on various search engines it would take hours and days to go through the thousands of abstracts that explain this.

This may be one of the most important reasons to take daily doses of vitamins. But, what do we take? How much of each? When? How much is too much? How do we know whether what we're taking is being absorbed to create this important protection? 

Are recommendations the same for everyone? What about people with stomach or digestive problems? What about people that exercise a lot, or athletes? How do we compare the young in age to those older, or with existing disease? Although this seems complicated, all of this is easily answered by one simple process. 

Blood testing for vitamins and minerals. Here we can make recommendations specific to each person, no matter what factors exist.If the test shows deficiency, as most initial tests do, then correction is easy with foods and supplements.A second test done a month later after a specific protocol has begun, will scientifically show if results are optimal. With this assessment and recommendation optimal nutritional density can be reached.  

With research like this, and that which describes increased heart disease risk with vitamin deficiency, a blood test for vitamins and minerals just might be the most important test to ever do.  

I have recommended and done these tests on all of the patients that I have seen throughout my career. It has always been a fruitful and rewarding experience for patients.   


Dr. Chris Calapai 

Plasma Folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Homocysteine, and Risk of Breast Cancer.

Background: In several epidemiologic investigations, folate intake has appeared to reduce the elevated risk of breast cancer associated with moderate alcohol consumption. However, data relating plasma folate levels to breast cancer risk are sparse. We investigated the association between plasma folate and other vitamins with breast cancer in a prospective, nested case–control study.

Methods: Blood samples were obtained during 1989 and 1990 from 32 826 women in the Nurses’ Health Study who were followed through 1996 for the development of breast cancer. We identified 712 breast cancer case patients and selected 712 individually matched control subjects. Dietary information was obtained using food frequency questionnaires given in 1980, 1984, 1986, and 1990. Logistic regression was used to estimate the relative risks (RRs) of breast cancer (after adjustment for potential risk factors), and a generalized linear model was used to calculate the Pearson correlation coefficients between plasma estimates of folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and homocysteine, and intakes of folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: The multivariable RR comparing women in the highest quintile of plasma folate with those in the lowest was 0.73 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.50 to 1.07; Ptrend = .06). The inverse association between plasma folate and breast cancer risk was highly statistically significant among women consuming at least 15 g/day (i.e., approximately 1 drink/day) of alcohol (multivariable RR = 0.11, 95% CI = 0.02 to 0.59 for highest versus lowest quintile) in contrast with that of women consuming less than 15 g/day (multivariable RR = 0.72, 95% CI = 0.49 to 1.05).

The multivariable RR comparing women in the highest quintile of plasma vitamin B6 levels with those in the lowest quintile was 0.70 (95% CI = 0.48 to 1.02; Ptrend = .09). Plasma vitamin B12 levels were inversely associated with breast cancer risk among premenopausal women (multivariable RR = 0.36, 95% CI = 0.15 to 0.86 for highest versus lowest quintile) but not among postmenopausal women. Plasma homocysteine was not associated with breast cancer risk.

Conclusions: Higher plasma levels of folate and possibly vitamin B6 may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Achieving adequate circulating levels of folate may be particularly important for women at higher risk of developing breast cancer because of higher alcohol consumption.

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Vitamin D and prostate cancer.

Our recent epidemiological study (Ahonen et al., Cancer Causes Control 11(2000) (847-852)) suggests that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of initiation and progression of prostate cancer. The nested case-control study was based on a 13-year follow-up of about 19000 middle-aged men free of clinically verified prostate cancer. More than one-half of the serum samples had 25OH-vitamin D (25-VD) levels below 50 nmol/l, suggesting VD deficiency.

Prostate cancer risk was highest among the group of younger men (40-51 years) with low serum 25-VD, whereas low serum 25-VD appeared not to increase the risk of prostate cancer in older men (>51 years). This suggests that VD has a protective role against prostate cancer only before the andropause, when serum androgen concentrations are higher. The lowest 25-VD concentrations in the younger men were associated with more aggressive prostate cancer. Furthermore, the high 25-VD levels delayed the appearance of clinically verified prostate cancer by 1.8 years. Since these results suggest that vitamin D has a protective role against prostate cancer, we tried to determine whether full spectrum lighting (FSL) during working hours could increase serum 25-VD concentrations. After 1-month exposure, there was no significant increase in the serum 25-VD level, although there was a bias towards slightly increasing values in the test group as opposed to decreasing values in controls.

There was no significant change in the skin urocanic acid production. The possibility to use FSL in cancer prevention is discussed. In order to clarify the mechanism of VD action on cell proliferation and differentiation, we performed studies with the rat and human prostates as well prostate cancer cell lines. It is possible that 25-VD may have a direct role in the host anticancer defence activity, but the metabolism of vitamin D in the prostate may also play an important role in its action. We raised antibodies against human 1alpha-hydroxylase and 24-hydroxylase. Our preliminary results suggest that vitamin D is actively metabolised in the prostate.

Vitamin D appears to upregulate androgen receptor expression, whereas androgens seem to upregulate vitamin D receptor (VDR). This may at least partially explain the androgen dependence of VD action. VD alone or administered with androgen causes a suppression of epithelial cell proliferation. VD can activate mitogen-activated kinases, erk-1 and erk-2, within minutes and p38 within hours. Also, auto/paracrine regulation might be involved, since keratinocyte growth factor (mRNA and protein) was clearly induced by VD. Based on these studies, a putative model for VD action on cell proliferation and differentiation is presented. 

Zinc deficiency, DNA damage and cancer risk.

A large body of evidence suggests that a significant percentage of deaths resulting from cancer in the United States could be avoided through greater attention to proper and adequate nutrition. Although many dietary compounds have been suggested to contribute to the prevention of cancer, there is strong evidence to support the fact that zinc, a key constituent or cofactor of over 300 mammalian proteins, may be of particular importance in host defense against the initiation and progression of cancer.

Remarkably, 10% of the U.S. population consumes less than half the recommended dietary allowance for zinc and are at increased risk for zinc deficiency. Zinc is known to be an essential component of DNA-binding proteins with zinc fingers, as well as copper/zinc superoxide dismutase and several proteins involved in DNA repair. Thus, zinc plays an important role in transcription factor function, antioxidant defense and DNA repair.

Dietary deficiencies in zinc can contribute to single- and double-strand DNA breaks and oxidative modifications to DNA that increase risk for cancer development. This review will focus on potential mechanisms by which zinc deficiency impairs host protective mechanisms designed to protect against DNA damage, enhances susceptibility to DNA-damaging agents and ultimately increases risk for cancer. 

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Vitamin C as an Antioxidant: Evaluation of Its Role in Disease Prevention.Vitamin C in humans must be ingested for survival. Vitamin C is an electron donor, and this property accounts for all its known functions. As an electron donor, vitamin C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant in humans. Antioxidant effects of vitamin C have been demonstrated in many experiments in vitro. Human diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer might occur in part from oxidant damage to tissues.

Oxidation of lipids, proteins and DNA results in specific oxidation products that can be measured in the laboratory. While these biomarkers of oxidation have been measured in humans, such assays have not yet been validated or standardized, and the relationship of oxidant markers to human disease conditions is not clear.

Epidemiological studies show that diets high in fruits and vegetables are associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer, and with increased longevity. Whether these protective effects are directly attributable to vitamin C is not known. Intervention studies with vitamin C have shown no change in markers of oxidation or clinical benefit. Dose concentration studies of vitamin C in healthy people showed a sigmoidal relationship between oral dose and plasma and tissue vitamin C concentrations. Hence, optimal dosing is critical to intervention studies using vitamin C. Ideally, future studies of antioxidant actions of vitamin C should target selected patient groups.

These groups should be known to have increased oxidative damage as assessed by a reliable biomarker or should have high morbidity and mortality due to diseases thought to be caused or exacerbated by oxidant damage.  

Risk of cancer in relation to serum concentrations of selenium and vitamins A and E: matched case-control analysis of prospective data.

The independent and joint associations of serum selenium and vitamin A (retinol) and E (alpha tocopherol) concentrations with the risk of death from cancer were studied in 51 case-control pairs–that is, 51 patients with cancer, each paired with a control matched for age, sex, and smoking. Case-control pairs came from a random sample of some 12000 people aged 30-64 years resident in two provinces of eastern Finland who were followed up for four years.

Patients who died of cancer during the follow up period had a 12% lower mean serum selenium concentration (p = 0.015) than the controls. The difference persisted when deaths from cancer in the first follow up year were excluded. The adjusted risk of fatal cancer was 5.8-fold (95% confidence interval 1.2-29.0) among subjects in the lowest tertile of selenium concentrations compared with those with higher values. Subjects with both low selenium and low alpha tocopherol concentrations in serum had an 11.4-fold adjusted risk.

Among smoking men with cancer serum retinol concentrations were 26% lower than in smoking controls (p = 0.002). These data suggest that dietary selenium deficiency is associated with an increased risk of fatal cancer, that low vitamin E intake may enhance this effect, and that decreased vitamin or provitamin A intake contributes to the risk of lung cancer among smoking men with a low selenium intake.  

Serum beta-carotene, vitamins A and E, selenium, and the risk of lung cancer.

We studied the relation of serum vitamin A (retinol), beta-carotene, vitamin E, and selenium to the risk of lung cancer, using serum that had been collected during a large blood-collection study performed in Washington County, Maryland, in 1974. Levels of the nutrients in serum samples from 99 persons who were subsequently found to have lung cancer (in 1975 to 1983) were compared with levels in 196 controls who were matched for age, sex, race, month of blood donation, and smoking history.

A strong inverse association between serum beta-carotene and the risk of squamous-cell carcinoma of the lung was observed (relative odds, 4.30; 95 percent confidence limits, 1.38 and 13.41). Mean (+/- SD) levels of vitamin E were lower among the cases than the controls (10.5 +/- 3.2 vs. 11.9 +/- 4.90 mg per liter), when all histologic types of cancer were considered together. In addition, a linear trend in risk was found (P = 0.04), so that persons with serum levels of vitamin E in the lowest quintile had a 2.5 times higher risk of lung cancer than persons with levels in the highest quintile.

These data support an association between low levels of serum vitamin E and the risk of any type of lung cancer and between low levels of serum beta-carotene and the risk of squamous-cell carcinoma of the lung.