Welcome to the summer edition of the Women’s Health Newsletter. I hope you are all enjoying your summer and that this edition finds you healthy and happy.
In This Issue
· Vitamin D
· Natural Health Jeopardy
· Thermography Special
I want to focus primarily on vitamin D in this edition of the newsletter. There is much misinformation and good information floating around so I thought I would try to clear at least some of this up. Vitamin D plays an extremely important part in you health and I think you will be surprised at the reduction in the incidence of various diseases when vitamin D levels are optimized. I know I was.
Newsletter vs Blog
In my last newsletter I asked if you preferred the somewhat irregular publication of the newsletter or would prefer a Blog format which I would update every couple days. My intent is to make this newsletter as useful for you as possible. Unfortunately, only two responses were forthcoming so for now anyway, I will keep the newsletter format rather than the Blog. I do encourage your questions and feedback. We can all learn from each other and we have a large enough community reading the newsletter to support active give and take of information. I encourage you to make this a newsletter that helps you achieve and maintain excellent health.
Many of you have asked how my son with the brain tumor is doing. I appreciate your concern. He had an MRI in early June, almost 2 years exactly from the day the tumor was discovered. His MRI remains free of any evidence of recurrence. I continue to thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts and I continue to believe there are several factors contributing to his disease free state. These include his conventional treatments which ended a year ago, natural medicine therapies which we continue, and most certainly the hand of God acting in his life. He married his girl friend on July 10th.
Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin, but rather a hormone with far reaching influence in the body. Just how far reaching remains to be seen, but it seems almost daily, new information is coming out about Vitamin D’s role in our lives. Vitamin D’s metabolic product, calcitriol, is actually a secosteroid hormone which is similar to steroid hormones. A deficiency of vitamin D, which research shows involves the majority of the US population, is a major factor in the pathology a large variety of cancers (including breast, colorectal and prostate) as well as heart disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes, stroke, pain syndromes, hypertension, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, Parkinson’s, MS, depression, cardiovascular disease, muscle weakness, birth defects, periodontal disease, flu outbreaks due to immune dysfunction and more.
As you may know, vitamin D is produced in the skin when exposed to UVB light, typically from the sun. But those of us living in Alaska don’t see much sun in the winter so unless we are getting UVB exposure or supplementing, we will have a serious deviancy. The angle of the sun during the late fall and winter months in the northern latitudes prevents the production of vitamin D even if you had the desire to put on a bathing suit and lay out in the sun during this time. In the summer months if you use sunscreen, you will not produce adequate amounts of vitamin D. There are other factors which impact how much vitamin D you will produce. One such factor is skin pigmentation. If you are fair skinned you will make more vitamin d then if you have a dark completion.
By the way, the RDA for vitamin D is like all the other RDA’s; the recommended intake was established to prevent a specific health problem which could result from deficiency. In this case the RDA was set to provide you with enough vitamin D to prevent rickets. I listened to a lecture by one of the physicians who made the original vitamin D RDA recommendations and he said “in our own defense, we did not know what we were talking about. Most of the information currently known about vitamin D has been learned since 1997.”
Although vitamin D has far reaching effects, lets take a moment and look at its role in cancer. As many of you know the prevention and treatment of breast cancer and other types of breast pathology is an area I have particular interest in.
Apoptosis (programmed cell death) is the process by which your cells essentially commit suicide. This is a normal and necessary process to maintain the proper functioning of an organism, in this case the organism is us. Damage to our DNA that may result in the formation of a cancer is handled in part by apoptosis. The absence of apoptosis in a cell with damaged DNA may result in the formation of a cancer. Vitamin D activates certain genes that make proteins that induce apoptosis thereby destroying aberrant cells, preventing a cancer.
Another area in which vitamin D is beneficial in the fight against cancer is angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels. In the case of cancer, angiogenesis is necessary for the growth of the tumor by supplying the rapidly growing tumor with the nutrients required for its growth. Vitamin D helps prevent this abnormal vessel growth in cancer development. By the way, in breast thermography one of criteria we use in assessing a thermogram is evidence of angiogenesis. Vitamin D is also involved in cell differentiation and metastasis (spreading of cancer to a distant location.) There is much that could be said about this, but I will settle for this very brief introduction.
Rather than bore you with specifics, specifics of which you can find on the internet, I thought I would provide you with some interesting data about vitamin D. Before I begin lets talk about the correct dose. Th question I hear regularly is “how much should I take”. The answer is a bit more involved than that, but the short version is take enough to reach the optimal blood level of 25(OH)D, - 25 hydroxy vitamin D. Now here is another point of debate. What is the optimal level of 25(OH)D? By the way, don’t confuse this test with 1-25(OH)2D. Most labs will list the normal range between 30 – 100 ng/ml of 25(OH)D. More recently I saw one lab show a range between 30-150 ng/ml. More recent evidence suggests a level of 50 should be the minimum, but there is no consensus. There is also the issue of optimal levels in cancer treatment. None of this is well defined. In my sons case I keep his level over 100 ng/ml. For now, lets keep the discussion specific for health optimization rather than treatment. I listened to a lecture on vitamin D recently where the physician presenting the data is the one that collected it in his clinic. He is involved in vitamin D research and unfortunately I cannot provide you with his name because I did not write it down. His data showed no adult became toxic taking up to 30,000 IU daily of D3 and no one with a 25(OH)D level less than 200ng/ml became toxic. Now it is important to understand that in some disease states extra vitamin D is contraindicated. For example sarcoidosis, but there are others. More on dosing following the next section.
Various disease states, or rather a reduction in the incidence of specific diseases can be measured against increasing 25(OH) D levels. The reduction, quantified in percent, is the incidence of disease is based on using a baseline 25(OH)D level of 25ng/ml. Most Alaskans that do not supplement fall in or below this range in the winter. Keep in mind this is not just a problem for those living in the northern latitudes. In a conference a couple years ago in California, one oncology group in Arizona presented this amazing fact. About 80 percent of their cancer patients had a 25(OH)D level below 30 ng/ml. That’s in Arizona where there is sun year round. We can probably thank sun screen for that. Based on the data I am about to present, the optimal range for 25(OH)D is between 45 -60 nl/ml. Higher than 55 ng/ml there did not appear to be any further reduction in disease incidence. Keep in mind this is one set of data, some feel the levels should be pushed higher. Regardless of your point of view on optimal levels, it does appear you would want to at least achieve a 45-55 ng/ml level. The most benefit was obtained reaching the 55 ng/ml level.
Disease Type 25(OH)D level (ng/ml) Percent decrease in disease incidence
Breast Cancer 51 83
Ovarian Cancer 47 17
Type 1 Diabetes 52 66
Factures 45 50
Multiple Sclerosis 55 54
Heart Attach in men 25 30
Influenza 38 77
Influenza incidence reduction is compared to a baseline of 18ng/ml and involved a group of 208 postmenopausal African-American women .
I have seen data recently showing a correlation between 25(OH)D levels at the time of diagnosis and prognosis with prostate cancer. The higher the level, the better the prognosis.
Amazing data. Can you imagine a decrease in the incidence of breast cancer of 83 percent! What would it do to our countries health care costs if everyone optimized their vitamin D levels? Imagine a 66 percent decrease in Type 1 Diabetes. You might find it interesting there is an attempt under way to deny coverage for screening vitamin D levels under Medicare coverage. Is this really the best use of our tax dollars? Should we be pushing for widespread screening of vitamin D levels rather than paying for the cost of treatment? Given the controversy surrounding mammography, something I have written about on more than one occasion, do you think we could save more women by simply optimizing vitamin D levels than pushing screening mammography. Something to think about. If calculations are correct, an 83 percent decrease in breast cancer would take the current 1:8 figure and lower it to 1:47 women developing breast cancer in their lifetime. If my math is incorrect feel free to let me know.
If this information has peaked your interest you will find a considerable amount of data on the internet. One web site to check out is www.vitamindcouncil.org
Now to the issue of what’s the correct dose. As I mentioned, the correct dose it the dose that maintains your blood level of 25(OH)D above 50. I prefer 70 -90ng/ml, some will suggest higher levels. Based on the data I presented, a range between 45-55 is optimal. Since there appears to be continued benefit for some diseases at the higher range, if using the presented data as a guideline then aim for a level around 55 ng/ml. But don’t become concerned if you obtain a higher level. Based on available data, levels below 200 ng/ml are not toxic, at least in the population studied. How much vitamin D3 supplementation will you need to achieve this? Depends on a variety of factors.
- What latitude you live at
- Skin pigmentation
- Body size
- Individual biochemistry
- Amount of sun you obtain and how much skin is exposed. It has been estimated if you sun bathe nude, at noon (best times for making vitamin D is between 11 and 1 typically), you are fair skinned, no sun screen, you will produce about 10,000 IU in 30 minutes.
Remember additional vitamin D intake is generally contraindicated if you have granulomatous diseases, sarcoidoisis or TB. Talk with your health care provider if you have these conditions and want to take additional vitamin D
It has been estimated that to increase your 25(OH) D level 7-10 ng/ml you would need to take 1000 IU of D3. For example if you wanted a 25(OH)D level of 70 and you had a level of 25, you would need to increase your level by 45 ng/ml. Assuming your level would increase 10ng/ml per 1000 IU, you would need to take 4500 IU of D3 daily. After about three months you should have your level checked again and adjust your D3 intake accordingly. In Alaska I have found most do well taking 5,000 – 10,000 IU daily. If you take a trip to Hawaii during the winter and you spend time in the sun with significant sun exposure you might not need to take any for the time you are there. Unless of course you have applied sunscreen. Of course don’t allow yourself to burn. I have seen one woman taking 2000 IU daily obtain a level of 70 ng/ml in Alaska. I take 10,000 IU daily and my level last time I checked was 67 ng/ml. In addition to having your 25(OH)D level checked, be sure to have your calcium level checked as well. Sometimes I am a better coach then a player and don’t always remember to take my supplements. But lets keep that between you and me and next time I see you and ask if you have been taking your supplements, no fair bringing up what I just confessed. By the way, supplement with D3 (cholecalciferol), not D2, (ergocalciferol)
Just for Fun
New Feature – Natural Health Jeopardy
In the spirit of the game show Jeopardy, with each newsletter I will provide one or more answers, and you supply the question. The first person to provide the correct question will win the designated prize, and of course win bragging rights. You can only win once per newsletter edition. Send your response to email@example.com
1) From the fungi kingdom, a traditional Chinese and I believe Tibetan medicinal which is highly regarded for its therapeutic qualities. Some of these actions include antiviral activity, moderates the effects of stress, antibacterial, can be used in cancer treatment, regulates blood pressure, enhances immune function, improves respiratory function, can be used to aid recovery following a prolonged illness, treats fatigue. Hint: The fungus invades the lava of the ghost moth and the end product the following spring is what I am looking for. I am looking for the common name but if you know the Chinese name you get even more bragging rights. By the way, those of you receiving this newsletter that are Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine practitioners are not eligible to win. Sorry.
The first person sending me the correct question wins a free bottle of our top quality Basic Preventive 5 Vitamin / Mineral supplement. $28 value.
As many of you know, from time to time I offer a breast thermography special. For readers of our newsletter we have a July special. If you are due for a thermogram or have been waiting for the right time then this may be your opportunity. Breast thermography is typically $235 dollars. If you schedule and complete a breast thermogram during July, the price will be $185. Additionally, if there are breast health issues you wish to address, for example an abnormal thermogram, breast pain, cysts, etc., you may do so with a 30 percent discount off your first appointment. This special is only available to those on our newsletter subscribers list. If you are interested in the special please call the office and let them know you are interested in the Newsletter thermography special. Remember you need to complete your thermogram by the end of this month.
If you suffer from pain related problems, for example, sciatica, back pain, fibromyalgia, tendonitis, headaches, arthritis, etc., and have not been seen in my clinic for acupuncture in the past, your first appointment will cost only $40. Typical fist appointment costs range between $179 – 240. Acupuncture is a fantastic treatment for these types of problems (and others). If you choose to take advantage of this offer, let the front office know you are responding to the acupuncture offer made in the Newsletter. You need to receive your first appointment by the last day of July
Questions and Answers (I have rewritten the question for brevity and clarity. This is a question I hear frequently)
Q: I experience substantial premenstrual breast pain. It hurts to run, it hurts to be hugged. I was told this is normal but there is medication I can take to help with the pain. Is this normal?
A: I am assuming this only occurs premenstrually, occurs in both breasts and there is no indication of serious pathology. No, this is not normal. It is indeed common, but not normal. Just because something occurs frequently does not make it normal. Significant breast tenderness/pain is an indication there is an underlying problem. This may be estrogen dominance, may be iodine deficiency. Even in the absence of estrogen dominance or iodide deficiency, other causes exist. Additionally, Chinese medicine has its own understanding of premenstrual breast pain. Weather you consider this problem from a western or Chinese medical perspective, it should be considered abnormal, unhealthy and typically can be easily resolved without medication. If you suffer from this I encourage you to come in and let’s work together to resolve this.
Thanks to all of those working with us to regain, maximize and maintain their health, we continue to be one of the most successful natural medicine clinics of our type in the country. In fact I was informed we are in the top 3 percent of clinics country wide. Thank you for your loyalty. I consider it an honor and privilege being able to serve your health care needs. Thank you for placing your trust in me and in our staff.
I am considering setting up our web site to allow you to order the same supplements we carry and others from the supplier we purchase from. This would allow you to obtain top quality supplements without leaving your home. Additionally, if you choose to purchase supplements this way, I will be happy to address any questions about those supplements via email. I am not certain I will do this, but I would like to know if there is an interest. If you are, please let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org In the subject line let me know it’s about supplement ordering.
Remember to send me your questions or comments. This newsletter and our clinic exist to serve you. Let me know what you want, or how we can do better.
Wishing you health, peace, prosperity and God’s blessings,