It has been an extremely cold winter, though I doubt I even need to tell many of you. Many East Coasters are doing everything they can to keep warm, wearing many layers of clothing every time they head outdoors. In comparison, the West Coast sun is brightly shining.
But while it’s warm and sunny out west, there’s a catch: even if you’re in a tropical paradise, you still have to dress in layers each morning to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. After all, we’ve been told that the sun’s UVB rays can cause cancer and damage skin.
But what if I told you sunlight may not always be so damaging? What if I told you that soaking up some sunlight is incredibly essential for your health, and actually protects you from 16 different cancers? Well, perhaps surprisingly, the sun can in fact lower your risk of developing such cancers as prostate, colon, ovarian, lung, pancreatic, and (as recent studies have shown) breast cancer.
Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Breast Cancer
It’s true. The main reason is that UVB rays from the sun produce vitamin D, and evidence links vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk of breast cancer. In a 2008 case-control study published in the journal Carcinogenesis, researchers found that post-menopausal women with low vitamin D in the blood had an increased risk of breast cancer. The study observed breast cancer patients between the ages of 50 and 74. In total, 1,394 cases and 1,365 controls were used in the study. Another case-control study from 2014 suggested that less than an hour of sunlight daily could reduce breast cancer risk.
How Vitamin D Shrinks Breast Cancer Root Cause
So, we know there is an anti-cancer link between vitamin D and breast cancer, but how? The sunlight-induced vitamin D is thought to reduce the reproduction and spread of cancer cells, and increase the occurrence of mutated cell self-eradication.
Let me explain in a little more detail…
A new study published in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology late last year found that vitamin D compounds suppress the breast cancer stem cell population, which may inhibit breast cancer growth.
What are cancer stem cells? They are the hidden root cause of cancer; they are cells that produce tumor colonies. Basically, radiation and chemotherapy shrink the tumor and kill the colony; however, the cancer stem cells remain, which can cause an aggressive cancer recurrence in the future. The chemotherapy and radiation pretty much just make the cancer stem cells angry.
The breast tissue abnormality ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) was once considered cancerous, but is now believed to be benign. DCIS may also progress to invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), which is a more serious breast cancer risk, though it may not develop into breast cancer. Conventional therapy still considers radiotherapy, chemotherapy, lumpectomies, and mastectomies for DCIS and IDC cases.
However, the aforementioned study found that the vitamin D3 compound BXL0124 normalized the mammosphere cell culture system, which included non-stem cell breast cells and breast cancer stem cells. Vitamin D compounds also repressed cancer stem cell properties, the pluripotency markers OCT4 and KLF-4, and the cell markers CD44, CD49f, pNFkB, and c-Notch1. Simply put, vitamin D3 gives cancer stem cells a run for their money.
Other Ways to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Vitamin D3 may be a safe and effective alternative or complementary treatment to conventional breast cancer therapy. It is also considered a cost-effective preventative therapy against the recurrence of breast cancer. Vitamin D3 supplementation ranges between $10.00 and $20.00, but the sunlight is free and readily available during the warmer months of the year. Having said that, just be sure to not get too much sunlight, as you may end up doing more harm to your body than good.
What are other possible breast cancer prevention methods? Selenium and melatonin supplementation may exhibit anti-cancer effects. It is also wise to increase dietary factors, such as fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids, as part of a comprehensive breast cancer treatment plan.
One important note: before changing treatments or adding new treatments to your current plan, discuss it with your doctor. There may be factors specific to your case that prevent you from taking on a new treatment, or make it unsafe to do so.
Also Read :
- Four Ways to Decrease Breast Cancer Risk Naturally
- How Exercise Could Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer
- Cancer and Cholesterol: Is There a Connection?
Sources for Today’s Article:
Abbass, S., et al., “Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of post-menopausal breast cancer—results of a large case control study,” Carcinogenesis January 2008; 29(1): 93–99.
Engel, L.S., et al., “Sun exposure, vitamin D receptor genetic variants, and risk of breast cancer in the Agricultural Health Study,” Environmental Health Perspectives February 2014; 122(2): 165–171, doi: 10.1289/ehp.1206274.
Ji., S., “Sunlight Holds Key To Killing Breast Cancer,” GreenMedInfo web site, January 1, 2015; http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/sunlight-holds-key-killing-breast-cancer-3, last accessed March 5, 2015.
Moritz, A., Cancer is Not a Disease: It’s a Survival Mechanism (USA: Ener-Chi Wellness Press, 2009), 98–99.
Wahler, J., et al., “Vitamin D compounds reduce mammosphere formation and decrease expression of putative stem cell markers in breast cancer,” Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology October 31, 2014, doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2014.10.016.