With the national debating health care, there has been much talk on "preventive medicine."
Well, how's this for preventive medicine? Would this be good for the country? The rate of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer drops 30 to 50% in 5 years (2014) at the cost of $5 a month.
Early humans lived near the equator, didn't wear many clothes, and didn't go to the nearest CVS for sunscreen. Noone was low in Vitamin D (it is made by sunlight). It is so prevelent that at least 20% of the genes rely on it to function (although as they do more research, that figure rises). Without a sufficient level, calcium isn't absorbed sufficiently (result - osteoporosis), cells hyperproliferate -(result - cancer) and inflammatory cells hyperproliferate (result - autoimmune diseases - MS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes). Also a natural class of antibiotics made by the body does't get produced. With all the concern about swine flu this season, I have read many studies with evidence that a level of Vitamin D of at least 50 nanograms lessens the chance greatly of contracting seasonal and Swine(H1N1)flu.
If we don't live near the equator,(north of Georgia, practically no vitamin D can be made 8 months of the year), we wear a lot more clothes, and we use sunscreen or don't go out much in the sun during the summer. (I'm not advocating we do sunbathe - skin cancer interacts with many factors such as Westernized diet, early humans didn't get skin cancer, Americans do). In fact, levels didn't just drop over thousands of years; a recent study proved that levels have dropped 20% nanograms in just 28 years in the United States.
After 20 years of being in primary care practice and never ordering a vitamin D level (noone else did), I have been surprised since 2005 as to what I didn't know. It involves tested 1700 people so far for 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and finding out first hand that virtually everyone with osteoporosis or osteopenia has a low level, 90% of people who had gotten various types of cancer have a low level, practically all people with lupus, MS, type I diabetes.. And the levels aren't just low, they are VERY low. Oh yes, 70% of normal healthy people also have low levels.
This information in no ways changes what we already know about the many risk factors for various cancers. If an individual has the risk factors and genetics in place putting them at risk for cancer, then low Vitamin D is the "straw that broke the camel's back."
And everything I found has been discovered by medical researchers in the last 15 years (85% of all Vitamin D research has been done in that time period.
So as researchers and vitamin D experts have said - wave a magic wand and make everyone's vitamin D level 32 nanograms ----- that would eliminate 50% of these diseases.
Although there has been much progress in awareness the past 5 years, there are several problems holding the progress back.
1) doctors and various aspects of the medical profession stand to lose a lot of income.
2) at $5 a month, noone is in line to make a lot of money from people taking vitamin D. Vitamin D3 available in vitamin stores is the same vitamin D, the same molecule that is made by the sun. (prescription Vitamin D2 is available for vegetarians).
3) just the act of testing vitamin D along with the routine blood work is a pain for doctors, because it means calling back 70% of patients and explaining to them they need to take vitamin D.
4) the enemies of vitamin D and preventive medicine (and yes, there are enemies) promote "Vitamin D toxicity derangement syndrome" (VDTDS). Toxicity can occur at levels greater than 200 nanograms. Those levels are impossible to obtain unless very enormous amounts of Vitamin D are taken over at least 8 months. No side effects occur at less than 200 nanograms. Unfounded fear of this keeps many people from taking sufficient vitamin D.
The actual "normal level" is considered 32 to 100 nanograms (as per Labcorp and others), but experts note that maximal bone density requires a level of 40 nanograms, and increased anti-cancer effect has been noted at 52 nanograms. These experts recommend an ideal level of 50 to 80 nanograms.
Full time male lifeguards have had their level tested at the end of the summer. Their levels are 100 ng. (and think about it - that would mean this is the level that humans had for thousands of years). Not coincidentally, this is the maximal level the body can reach by sun alone. After this level is reached, the chemicals break down and the level doesn't go any higher.
Vitamin promoters have "cried wolf" several times over the past 3 decades. Vitamin C was supposed to cure cancer, vitamin E was supposed to prevent heart disease. These claims were never based on valid research; and many were outright fradulent. The evidence of Vitamin D's connection in preventing these various diseases is greater than the evidence that cigarette smoking is a main cause of lung cancer.
The 4 step program for "recovery":
1. insist that your doctor order a 25-hydroxy vitamin D level. It is covered by insurance like any other blood test; it is non-fasting. Many insurance companies pay the laboratory a negotiated rate of about $50. Don't assume your doctor has already gotten if for you along with other tests. If he or she didn't specifically tell you what your vitamin D level was, he or she didn't get the test.
2. insist on getting a copy of the written results. Don't rely on anyone telling you "it's normal." (In New Jersey, the law states a person can request a copy of the results be sent to them from the laboratory).
3. decide what level you want. Minimal "normal" is 32 nanograms. Ideal is 50 to 80 nanograms. There levels can be reached within a maximal of 6 months. Remember, the average lifeguard in August has a level of over 100 ng.) Levels can be repeated in 6 months and then perhaps once a year to ensure the level is high enough.
4. Without a level, it's impossible to recommend the correct dose for a particular person. More people are taking Vitamin D than 2005, but most of those people are taking small insufficient doses that won't get the level up to even 32 ng.
4. don't look back, look forward. Most people's worlds would be different if everyone had known about this 20 years ago, (I know mine would be) but gong forward is what we have to emphasize.
WHAT INSURANCE COMPANIES COULD DO NOW TO EASE THE HEALTH CARE CRISIS
Some pilot programs have given discounts for maintaining a good cholesterol level, or a certain weight. The programs are working! Insurance companies could announce a pilot program offering discounts of 5% off the health care insurance premium if the customer produces proof that their total 25-hydroxyvitamin D level is 32 nanograms. I predict what would happen is that the insurance companies would find out within a few years that the discount could be increased as they would save far more than 5%. (Osteoporosis alone is a multi-billion health care cost).