D Defends Against Colon Cancer

January 27, 2010
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

VitaDDetox is also important to remove disease-causing toxins.

Got enough vitamin D? Research increasingly points out that all age groups—77% of Americans—are low in this “sunshine” vitamin.

A new study at the University of Hawaii finds vitamin D lowers the risk for colorectal cancer in a variety of ethnic groups. “There is now quite a lot of evidence from studying populations that people who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to develop bowel cancer,” adds Dr. Panagiota Mitrou, science program manager for the World Cancer Research Fund.

In the biggest study yet, British scientists show that people with the highest levels of vitamin D had a 40% lower risk for colorectal cancer than those with the lowest levels. This cancer causes few symptoms in its early stages—even though it’s the third most common malignancy in this country.

Vitamin D also appears to protect against other cancers ranging from breast to prostate. Receptors for this vitamin have been found in 80% of breast cancer, for example, and D appears to influence up to 200 genes involved in cancer formation and prevention. Even people with thyroid cancer have higher rates of D deficiency than the general population.

Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:

The link between vitamin D intake and cancer protection dates back to the 1940s when research suggested that sunlight provided a degree of cancer immunity. More recently, though, the growing hole in the earth’s ozone layer has us all using sun protection—to prevent skin cancer—while our body’s supply of D has declined substantially.

German scientists suggest that vitamin D is anti-inflammatory, which may help explain why it also helps protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease, particularly congestive heart failure. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to diabetes, hypertension, and even multiple sclerosis (MS).

Sufficient levels of D are critical in preventing bone loss, preserving brain function, fighting microbial infections (even those as virulent as TB), and keeping muscles contracting properly. Children low in vitamin D tend to have severe asthma, as well.

Who’s D-Deficient?
Body-mass index (BMI) and obesity are effective predictors of vitamin D deficiency. As people grow older, their kidneys become less able to convert sunshine into D. The pigment melanin in dark-skinned people blocks their ability to convert sunlight into vitamin D.

Strict vegetarians are also likely to be low in this vitamin. And poor digestion plays a role. For example, people with celiac or Crohn’s disease and cystic fibrosis often have trouble absorbing D from foods.

Get your blood level of vitamin D tested periodically. ZRT Laboratory in Beaverton, OR, uses state-of-the-art assessment to spot-test deficiencies in D. Or the next time you’re having blood work done, ask your doctor for a 25-hydroxy D test. One recent analysis from leading scientists suggests that blood levels of 75 to 110 nmol/l are optimal.

Few foods (egg yolks and salmon) are natural sources of vitamin D, which is why I recommend that everyone take supplements daily. Because I live in Idaho where it’s very difficult to get sufficient D from the sun, I take Vitamin D 5,000 IU daily.

Other Ways to Protect the Colon
Research clearly shows that eating plenty of fruits and veggies keeps things moving through the colon, preventing constipation and getting rid of toxic wastes. The right kind of fiber—like chia seeds— also adds anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats to fight cancer and heart disease.

Both my New York Times bestseller The Fat Flush Plan and The Gut Flush Plan provide plenty of useful information on how to cleanse the intestinal tract, removing cancer-causing toxins and inflammatory substances. After listening to feedback from millions of Fat Flushers, I saw a need for Fat Flush for Life, offering a safe, effective year-round approach to detox.

In the battle for a healthy weight and BMI, supporting the colon—not to mention organs of detoxification like the liver—has an enormous advantage in eliminating fattening and disease-causing toxins from the body.

Whether you’re a veteran Fat Flusher, new to the whole idea of detox, or need to kick up your metabolism another notch or two for weight loss, Fat Flush for Life integrates cleansing principles with seasonal diet, exercise, and wellness suggestions. I’m honored that Time included this book—#5—on its list of Top 10 Notable Diets for 2010.

Fat Flush for Life

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Julie

    Is there a difference between vitamin D and vitamin D3? Thank you.


  2. Joel

    Vit. D3 is a form of D, Vit. D3 is what you want to take since it’s the most bioavailable.

  3. Lora

    I’ve read that if you get 10 -15 minutes of sun per day than that would be a sufficient amount of vit. D – do you feel that is correct?

  4. Annie

    I’ve heard that vitamin D also help with weight loss. Can this be true?

  5. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Hello There:
    The ONLY way to truly know if you are getting enough vitamin D is to take a blood test. Most of us wear sunscreens that block out vitamin D absorption.
    Yes, it is absolutely true that D also helps with weight loss. This Daring vitamin is looking more like a hormone every day 🙂

  6. Ellen

    Vitamin D… I’m finding that a deficiency in Vitamin D is a very bad thing. I’m recovering from breast cancer and it was determined that I was very deficient in Vitamin D and I’ve already developed some osteoporosis at 54. Calcium intake requires Vitamin D to be absorbed properly. My question for Dr. G is this… post chemo and radiation, almost all post menopause women are placed on one of 3 aromatase inhibitors… the advantage is to increase your percentage on non-recurrence of breast cancer. My cancer was estrogen positive. I am absolutely not able to tolerate the AI’s., which I suppose means my body needs some estrogen to make it run properly. Please… do you have any recommendations for women who can’t tolerate AI’s? From my research it appears about 20%+ have great difficulty taking an AI and about 10% quit taking it as a result of the pain and emotional symptoms that develop. Women “really” need help in this area; we feel as though we must decide if we desire “quality of life” or “quantity”.

  7. Connie

    I was tested for Vit D and came up with 17. The doc wants me to take a prescription for 50,000 units once a week. Is the prescription any better than just taking it from supplements off the shelves?

  8. Joel

    Connie- I believe the only difference is the dosage. You won’t find that high of a dosage at a health food store.


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