Though the following information is expressed to the American population citing USA statistics, this problem and message is very relevant to us here in Ireland and the EU. As the cancer epidemic spirals out of control in this country we really need to educate ourselves and start researching outside the box – in this case the box being the media! The evidence is now extremely indicative that Vitamin D is a valid player in the prevention and treatment of cancer, specifically colon and breast cancers. The following was emailed to me by Dr.John Cannell, MD from California.
Does vitamin D prevent cancer? If it does, will doctors who ignore the research end up with blood on their hands? The press makes it easy for doctors to believe what they want to believe. Below are a number of stories about the same scientific study; read all the different headlines. According to your prior beliefs, you can choose the story you want to believe and read that one. Don't feel bad, we all do it. As Walter Lippman once said, "We do not see and then believe, we believe and then we see."
What Dr. Freedman actually discovered is that when you take a very large group of people (16,818), some as young as seventeen, measure their vitamin D levels, and then wait about ten years to see who dies from cancer, you find 536 die and that a vitamin D level from ten years earlier is not a good predictor of who will die from cancer.
However, even a level drawn ten years earlier predicted that those with the lowest level were four times more likely to die from colon cancer, suggesting, as Ed Giovannucci has, that colon cancer may be exquisitely sensitive to vitamin D. Furthermore, 28 women got breast cancer, 20 in the group with the lowest vitamin D level but only 8 in the highest. The breast cancer findings were not statistically significant - even during a very long breast cancer awareness month - but can you imagine what critics at the American Cancer Society would be telling women if the numbers were reversed, if the 20 women who got breast cancer were in the high vitamin D group?
Another large epidemiological study appeared about breast cancer the very next day. This time, the press passed on the story and the American Cancer Society was mum, no editorials by Dr. Lichtenfeld, their spokesman, in spite of breast cancer awareness month.
[Abbas S, et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer - results of a large case-control study. Carcinogenesis. 2007 Oct 31; [Epub ahead of print]]