We Are Sunshine

Task Force Draws Fire for ‘D’ Slight

Friday, June 15th, 2012

The first draft of a U.S. Preventative Service Task Force vitamin D recommendation is drawing heavy fire from the vitamin D research community for not admitting that mountains of evidence now connect vitamin D deficiency with higher risk of many cancers, autoimmune disorders as well as heart disease and bone and muscle weakness.

The draft is open for public comment until July 10, but the USPSTF on Tuesday said there isn’t enough information to say whether vitamin D supplements can prevent cancer or whether vitamin D and calcium supplements at low doses prevent fractures in post-menopausal women.

The USPSTF is charged with making statements from which policy-making groups can draw supposedly objective conclusions. But the USPSTF paper comes on the heels of a 2010 slight from the Institutes of Medicine which also failed to admit that evidence is strong in favor of ‘the sunshine vitamin.’ The IOM refused to consider hundreds of studies, but would not say why — drawing heavy criticism.

Thousands of clinical, lab, epidemiologic and randomized controlled trials demonstrate that vitamin D regulates cell growth and functioning in most body systems — a mechanism explaining why vitamin D deficiency is linked in epidemiology to so many diseases. For instance, there are hundreds of times more studies on the importance of vitamin D than there are on sunlight and skin cancer, for which there is still no clear mechanism, as melanoma is more common in indoor workers than it is in outdoor workers, who get 4-10 times more UV exposure, according to the World Health Organization and many other sources.

The vitamin D slam by USPSTF is seen as inexplicable by vitamin D advocates.

Grassroots Health — a vitamin D action group started by breast cancer survivor Carole Baggerly — released this statement:

GrassrootsHealth was started by getting a panel of over 40 of the best vitamin D researchers to be specific about ‘what’s the message?’ in part due to this exact conflicting message situation. They ALL agreed that the key message is to get one’s serum level to the physiological level of 40-60 ng/ml is what’s important! And five years later it still is THE message. There will continue to be a lot of ‘conflicting’ reports, etc. from different groups because they’re looking at very detailed information and their answers depend highly on how the question is asked. None of the information has indicated any harm at the 40-60 ng/ml level, and, many have indicated benefits.

The best analogy to vitamin D I can think of is water. Just imagine trying to run a RCT on how water ‘affects cancer.’ Are we going to deprive ALL the rest of our body water to see what it does to cancer? How do you know that it’s water anyway and not some waste product that water didn’t ‘clear out’ or interact with?

So… for all but the specialists who want to spend hours and hours reading the literature, understanding the nits, I’d suggest a ‘higher’ level focus, that of getting one’s serum level to 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L) and only pay attention to something that indicates harm in that range. Then, contact GrassrootsHealth. We’ll be happy to get the appropriate scientific answer to the question.