October 5, 2016

Director's Letter 
Carole Baggerly 
Director, GrassrootsHealth 

Currently, the American Cancer Society (ACS) says that the chance of a women getting breast cancer in her lifetime is 12.3%, or approximately 1 out of every 8 women!

That number is staggering, but what is even worse is that over the last three decades, that number has not significantly changed!  There was a report that it had decreased in 2002-2003 by 7%... to get to this level.  That would have made the percentage be 13.22% or 1/7.56 women.. which of course is rounded to 1/8.  Thus, we're still in the 1/8 women range.

What we need to do is look at the potential of a 50% decrease, which would make the numbers be 1/16 for about a 6% rate.  This is primary prevention, not the current push for mammograms which is definitely secondary, after you already  have it.

We can't wait! 

Throughout this month we will present findings on vitamin D and breast cancer. Many of them show a substantially reduced risk when you move from a low level of vitamin D (the standard population according to NHANES, has a median level of 22 ng/ml) to our recommended range (40-60 ng/ml). 

So... let's act now! Let's continue to work on increasing everyone's vitamin D level to at least 40 ng/ml so that we might finally see a substantial decrease in incidence of breast cancer.

Make it Breast Cancer PREVENTION Month.


Carole Baggerly
Director, GrassrootsHealth
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization
Moving Research into Practice NOW!
 GrassrootsHealth Analysis Associates Vitamin D with >65% Lower Cancer Risk

Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations ≥40 ng/ml are Associated with >65% Lower Cancer Risk: Pooled Analysis of Randomized Trial and Prospective Cohort Study
Sharon L. McDonnell et al.
April 6, 2016

GrassrootsHealth has four researchers on staff who work on analyzing and publishing study data. We can use data from our three population cohorts - D*action, Breast Cancer Prevention, and Protect our Children NOW! and have partnerships with leading researchers who allow us access to their study data. For this paper we partnered with leading vitamin D and cancer researchers - Dr's Garland, Gorham, and Lappe as well as the GrassrootsHealth Research Director at the time, Dr. Heaney.
The Importance of Analysis by Serum Level
GrassrootsHealth believes in focusing analysis on achieved serum level rather than simply the amount of vitamin D a person gets per day (or week or month).  This is important for understanding the relationship between disease condition and vitamin D and has been missing from many published studies. This is the second research paper GrassrootsHealth has published where we have taken existing data and re-analyzed results based on serum levels, not dosage levels. The result? A clearer understanding of how to reduce the risk of certain health conditions with vitamin D.

What about Cancer?
For this analysis we combined data for women 55 and older from our GrassrootsHealth cohort (N = 1,135, median serum level = 48 ng/ml) and the cohort of a previously published RCT on vitamin D and calcium supplementation with respect to cancer (Read Lappe RCT paper; N= 1,169, median serum level = 30 ng/ml) and used the pooled cohort to investigate cancer incidence over time (median = 3.9 years).  Combining cohorts gave us a wider range of serum levels, more data, and thus improved statistical power. We looked at all invasive cancers combined, excluding skin cancer.

Using statistical analysis, we found that women with vitamin D serum levels ≥40 ng/ml had a 67% lower risk of cancer than women with serum levels <20 ng/ml. In the chart above you can see that the greatest decrease in risk occurred between ~10 - 40 ng/ml. Calcium did not have any significant effect on cancer risk in this analysis.  

Breast Cancer was most common

48 women in the Lappe cohort and 10 in the GrassrootsHealth cohort were diagnosed with cancer during the observation period. The most common type of cancer was breast cancer (chart below).

Become a D*champion

If you believe that vitamin D can make a difference in your health, then what is stopping you from giving more people this tool for optimal health? 

Business - Many businesses have perks for employees - food brought in as snacks, lunch, etc. How about screening employees for vitamin D deficiency and conducting a brown bag seminar session to watch an educational video about vitamin D? Six months later - test again and report the change in levels* within the company. There could be a contest - which department has the highest percentage of employees with a serum level in the recommended range of 40-60 ng/ml, or the biggest change between first and second test. Do you own a business or could you propose this to your management?

*Only de-identified data will be reported.

Meeting Group - Do you belong to an organization that meets once a month or more? You could show an educational video and encourage everyone to screen their vitamin D level at an upcoming meeting. After 50 enrollees you will receive a report on the initial test (with de-identified data). Attendees would follow up on the GrassrootsHealth web site, learn what changes they should make, then re-test 6 months later. You will be providing a great service to the group - getting them information 17 years before their doctor gives it to them. (17 years is the average time it takes for research to become standard practice.)

Natural Health Group - Are you a natural health practitioner who wants to screen your patients? You can provide screening information in your waiting room (compliments of GrassrootsHealth!) and purchase screening kits for your office. After 50 people enroll you will get data on the enrollees (de-identified) to hang in your waiting room. Your patients will be amazed at the average level of your community! 

Example data from first 50 participants
Dr. Cedric Garland
Research News:
Discovery of Vitamin D for Prevention

Written by Cedric F. Garland, Dr, PH, FACE
University of California at San Diego Medical Center

Epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University in the late 1980's and the University of California San Diego in the 1990's, discovered that women who live in sunny places are relatively immune to breast cancer.

On the other hand, those who live in places with long winters with little sun, such as Iceland, Finland, the Scandinavian countries, the British Isles, and, in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand have extremely high rates. This pattern in both hemispheres could not be explained persuasively by dietary differences.

Within countries such as the US, Italy and the former USSR, death rates from breast cancer are markedly higher in the North than the South. In the US, the death rate from breast cancer is lowest in sunny Hawaii. In Italy it is lowest in Sicily, the sunniest province. In the USSR it was the sunniest southern republics that had the lowest incidence rates of breast cancer. The same pattern has been found in other countries.

Studies of individuals then showed that women with lower levels of vitamin D metabolite in their blood serum had much higher incidence rates of breast cancer. That vitamin D metabolite is called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. It's the main circulating and storage form of vitamin D, and is the standard measure of vitamin D status. The effect is profound for adenocarcinoma of the breast, the most common type of breast cancer that accounts for 80% of US cases.

Editor's Letter 
Susan Siljander 
Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth

It is the first week of our Breast Cancer PREVENTION month. I have had my fair share of close friends and family diagnosed with this disease. I am also of the age when it is being commonly diagnosed. I do not want breast cancer! I do not want any of my friends or family to get breast cancer!

So - what do I do? I send friends this newsletter. I send them the link to our breast cancer and vitamin D page. I encourage people to get out mid-day in the sun without sunscreen (I live in San Diego). I ask them their vitamin D level. 

It is important to get the word out. We can't wait 17 more years for the medical community to catch on - we need to tell all women now! 

Have a great week.

Susan Siljander
Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization  
Moving Research into Practice NOW!

Order Now
Order Your Home Vitamin D Test TODAY!
Your participation in this project helps provide answers to your D questions and funds all the GrassrootsHealth research and promotion.

Breast Cancer Prevention with Vitamin D

Raising vitamin D levels to the recommended range of 40-60 ng/ml may reduce incidence of breast cancer by 50-80%. On this page you will find resources to dive deeper into this subject. 

Become a D*champion today!

Learn more about how to start a vitamin D screening program in your community today.

Stop Vitamin D deficiency now! Raise vitamin D DRI to support breastfeeding mother and baby.

Vitamin D and Breast Cancer Studies

A 2007 randomized clinical trial at Creighton University led by Joan Lappe, PhD, RN, FAAN, found that a dose of 1100 IU/day of vitamin D along with 1400-1500 mg/day of calcium helped women aged 55 and older raise their average serum vitamin D level to 38 ng/ml (from a baseline of 29 ng/ml) and prevent approximately 4 out of 5, or 80%, of all invasive cancers including breast cancer. 

A 2013 case control study at UCSD School of Medicine, Mohr et al.  found that the three months prior to tumor diagnosis was a relevant window of time for cancer prevention and that those with vitamin D levels ≥35 ng/ml had a 70% reduction in risk of developing breast cancer than those with levels <15 ng/ml. 

Lowe et al. demonstrated in a 2005 case control study that women with serum levels of >60 ng/ml had more than a five-fold (80%) reduction in breast cancer risk compared to women with levels <20 ng/ml. 

In a 2008 case control study, Abbas et al. found that those with 25(OH)D levels ≥30 ng/ml had an almost 70% reduced risk of post-menopausal breast cancer compared to those with levels <12 ng/ml.  

In a 2009 case control study, Abbas et al. found that women with 25(OH)D levels ≥24 ng/ml had more than a 50% reduction in risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer compared to those with levels <12 ng/ml.   

Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations ≥40 ng/ml are Associated with >65% Lower Cancer Risk: Pooled Analysis of Randomized Trial and Prospective Cohort Study
Sharon McDonnell et al.
April 2016

Breast Cancer Poster Presentation
Findings from GrassrootsHealth Breast Cancer Study
April 2016

Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial
Joan Lappe et al.
June 2007

Vitamin D Supplement Doses and Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D in the Range Associated with Cancer Prevention
Cedric F. Garland
Christine B. French
Leo L. Baggerly
Robert P. Heaney

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