Vitamin D and Colon and Rectal Cancer Prevention - Cooper
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Vitamin D and Colorectal Cancer Prevention

Photo of foods containing vitamin D for colon and rectal cancer prevention

Study after study has linked low vitamin D levels with various diseases, including cancer and heart disease. However, the exact nature of the connection has thus far remained unclear. It has posed an age-old question: “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” Are low vitamin D levels a possible cause for disease, or is it one of the resulting factors after a disease is developed? Researchers continue to work to uncover the true nature of the correlation. Here we review the role of vitamin D in colon and rectal cancer prevention.


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Cooper Clinic has long recognized the importance of vitamin D for bone health, as we have been testing patient vitamin D levels since 2007. Cooper Clinic recommends at least 50 mcg (2000 IU ) of supplemental vitamin D daily (the amount found in Cooper Complete Original and Basic One multivitamins). A study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute examined the connection between vitamin D and colon and rectal cancer prevention.

What is the Research on Vitamin D and Cancer?

Published by the health journal Gut, new research shows for the first time a link between vitamin D and the immune response to cancer in a large human population. “People with high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream have a lower overall risk of developing colorectal cancer,” said the study’s lead researcher Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD, from Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “Laboratory research suggests that vitamin D boosts immune system function by activating T [immune] cells that recognize and attack cancer cells. In this study, we wanted to determine if these two phenomena are related: Does vitamin D’s role in the immune system account for the lower rates of colorectal cancer in people with high circulating levels of the vitamin?”

This study of actual patients shows evidence that vitamin D can work with the body’s immune system.  In unison, vitamin D helps the body raise defenses against cancer.  However, there is still more information to investigate on these topics. But, Ogino expressed, “In the future, we may be able to predict how increasing an individual’s vitamin D intake and immune function can reduce his or her risk of colorectal cancer.”

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal Cancer, also called bowel cancer, develops in the colon or the rectum, both parts of the gastrointestinal (digestive) system. The American Cancer Society says excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 104,610 new cases of colon cancer and 43,340 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States in 2020.


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Ultimately, routine screenings (such as colonoscopies) have the potential to prevent colorectal cancer.  Specifically, this is because most cancers of this type develop from small, detectable polyps or growths. Removing these polyps during a colonoscopy can actually prevent cancer from occurring.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines

Cooper Clinic recommends a baseline colonoscopy for men and women at age 40. At least by age 50, both men and women should have a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer. However, if a patient has abnormal polyps, they should have a colonoscopy every three years or more frequently. If you have a family history of colon cancer, it is recommended that you have your first colonoscopy 10 years before your family member was when he/she was diagnosed.

In addition, maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity and ending smoking habits can also help prevent this cancer. Incidentally, these are all steps we recommend to Get Cooperized™.

Vitamin D and colon and rectal cancer prevention

So, regarding vitamin D and colon and rectal cancer prevention, how much vitamin D should one consume? Sadly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.

Dr. Kavitha Donthireddy, an oncologist at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital, advises these lifestyle changes to help prevent an occurrence or recurrence:

  • If overweight, target a BMI of 27 or under.
  • Exercise three to four times weekly for at least 30 to 45 minutes of cardio or other exercises.
  • Supplement vitamin D, if levels are low.
  • Diet rich in fruit and vegetables.

All Cooper Complete multivitamins contain Cooper Clinic’s recommended baseline amount of 50 mcg (2,000 IU) vitamin D. While 50 mcg (2,000 IU) is more vitamin D than most multivitamins contain, many people need much more. Next time your blood is drawn, request a vitamin D test as well. If low, your physician can work with you to determine how much vitamin D you specifically need.

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Article provided by Cooper Complete team.

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