I've written before about how important vitamin D is to your health. Researchers have linked a deficiency in vitamin D to everything from neurodegenerative disease to breast cancer to depression. Now a new review study conducted at the University of Warwick and presented at the Society for Endocrinology's annual conference has given us yet another condition to add to our list.
For this study, researchers evaluated a total of seven studies according to a systematic review process. They concluded that these studies provide clinical evidence that vitamin D deficiency can be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer. Five out of the seven studies indicated evidence of such a link.
In an attempt to explain these findings, the researchers began investigating the transitional epithelial cells that line the bladder, looking for a connection to vitamin D. They found that these cells do indeed interact with the vitamin, both activating and responding to it. This activity is linked to the immune system's response, which is significant because the immune system can help the body identify and eliminate abnormal cells before they become cancerous. If vitamin D levels are inadequate, this process may not work properly in the bladder.
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While it's certainly possible to get vitamin D from the sun as well as from your diet (it's found in fatty fish and egg yolks, for example), I don't think it's wise to rely solely on these sources. It's hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun. And if you live in a colder climate, it's easy to skip spending time outdoors far too often. In fact, in the UK, where the researchers conducted this study, one in five adults are deficient in vitamin D, and three in five have levels that are much lower than optimal. Even if you live in a warmer, sunnier climate, there's still a good chance that you could end up deficient unless you're very intentional about getting some controlled sun exposure every day. I live in warm and sunny Nevada and almost all of my patients (including myself) have less than the optimal amount of vitamin D unless they are supplementing.
It's best to ensure that you're getting enough vitamin D by regularly taking it in supplement form. My favorite version is Advanced Bionutritionals Vitamin D3 supplement. This will give you 5,000 IU of naturally sourced vitamin D to help you ensure that your body has enough of this vital vitamin to keep your immune system running smoothly and help you avoid painful conditions like bladder cancer. The optimal dose to take is the dose that gets your vitamin D3 blood levels above 50 ng/mL.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD