Friday, June 15, 2018 by Isabelle Z.
Did you know that roughly 38.4 percent of people will be diagnosed with some type of cancer during their lifetime? If you’re “lucky,” yours might just be a harmless melanoma that your dermatologist can remove in their office. If you’re really unlucky, on the other hand, you could end up with one of the deadliest and fastest progressing types, like pancreatic cancer.
We don’t get to choose whether or not we’ll get cancer or which type we might develop, so this may feel like a losing battle, but the truth is that you have more power over cancer than you think. For example, when it comes to liver cancer – one of the deadliest varieties – you can slash your risk by half by doing one simple thing that won’t cost you money or even that much time.
According to a study in The BMJ Today, getting enough vitamin D can reduce your risk of cancer in general by 20 percent. This is pretty remarkable on its own, but the good news doesn’t end there: Higher vitamin D levels were linked to a reduction in a person’s relative risk of liver cancer of as much as 50 percent.
It’s particularly promising news when you consider the scope of the study. The researchers looked at data taken from nearly 34,000 Japanese adults between the ages of 40 and 69 as part of a prospective study from the Japan Public Health Center. The participants were followed over the course of 16 years on average, with blood samples taken regularly. Next, the researchers would like to carry out additional studies to determine the optimal concentrations of this useful vitamin when it comes to preventing cancer.
A different study that looked at the risk of breast cancer among women whose sisters had the disease found that those with serum levels of at least 38 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of vitamin D had a 21-percent lower breast cancer risk than those with levels lower than 24.6 ng/mL. Moreover, they discovered that taking a vitamin D supplement four times a week lowered the risk.
This seems to support studies showing that getting enough sunlight reduces breast cancer risk by 70 percent. After all, it’s the sun that prompts your body to make vitamin D. Among those who do get breast cancer, a different study published in the journal JAMA Oncology found that the women with the highest vitamin D levels had the best chances of surviving the disease.
Getting enough vitamin D doesn’t have to cost you anything; it’s as simple as spending some time outside on a sunny day with some of your skin exposed. You can even multitask, using that time to get some exercise, tend to your garden, or play with your children and/or pets. It’s amazing that something so easy can have such significant benefits.
How much time you’ll need to spend outdoors depends on where you live, the tone of your skin, and how much skin you leave exposed, among other factors. A good general guideline is 30 minutes of direct sunlight twice a week. One thing you definitely shouldn’t do during this time is wear sunscreen; studies show that even an SPF of 15 can reduce your body’s production of vitamin D by 99 percent.
While foods like fatty fish, eggs, and mushrooms do contain vitamin D, experts say it’s quite difficult to get enough of it from food alone. If spending time in the sun isn’t feasible for you for some reason, you could consider turning to reputable supplements to make sure you get enough of this vitamin. Getting vitamin D, no matter which route you take, is pretty easy and it’s well worth the effort to cut your risk of cancer by as much as half.