A few years ago, I first told you about studies showing that increased vitamin D can double survival times for breast cancer, the leading cancer in women. And now — a new study shows higher vitamin D levels improve survival times in patients with colon cancer, a leading cancer in both men and women.
For this study, researchers at the acclaimed Dana-Farber Cancer Institute analyzed data from 1,043 patients with metastatic colon cancer. These were cases in which the colon cancer had already spread to distant sites beyond the colon. And, thus, the patients underwent more aggressive treatments.
At the beginning of the study, the researchers also measured the patients’ vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) blood levels. And they also estimated the patients’ vitamin D intake from dietary sources with a questionnaire about food and supplement intake.
Overall, the researchers found patients lived significantly longer if they had higher dietary intake of vitamin D and higher plasma vitamin D levels (blood levels). In fact, patients with the highest 20 percent of vitamin D intake/blood levels survived for 33 months. By comparison, those in the lowest 20 percent of vitamin D intake/blood levels only survived 24 months.
Those numbers are huge. It shows simply having higher vitamin D levels in the blood could extend life by nine months.
$9,000 per month colon cancer drug falls shamefully short
Now, I know these statistics are tough to read. But for anyone with cancer, it’s critically important. Because let’s now compare those vitamin D numbers to men and women who take Avastin, the blockbuster colon cancer drug. Avastin only extends survival times by four months, on average. In some studies, it only gives patients another two months in overall survival.
Plus, Avastin can cost up to $9,000 per month. And the side effects include GI perforation, stroke, and heart attack.
Despite these shameful results, Avastin is still the go-to drug for most oncologists. And it consistently ranks among the top-10 most profitable drugs on the market. In recent years, it’s pulled in roughly $7 billion annually. What’s even sicker is that doctors now use Avastin for other types of cancer…and even for macular degeneration.
This was the largest study on metastatic colon cancer that evaluated the role of vitamin D. And it provided further evidence for the importance of higher levels of vitamin D in improving patient survival. Since all the patients were receiving one or more forms of mainstream cancer treatments, the vitamin D may have improved survival by its anti-cancer effects and/or by helping counteract the toxic effects of the cancer therapy itself.
New take on prostate cancer
In other news, researchers recently stumbled upon a new approach to treating prostate cancer. Now, as I always remind you, most prostate “cancers” never invade or metastasize to other tissues. But late-stage prostate cancer does. Doctors commonly treat it by blocking testosterone (which makes prostate cells grow), removing the testes, and hormonal treatments called androgen-deprivation therapy.
However, prostate cancer eventually becomes resistant to these treatments. Amazingly, over time, prostate cancer cells become “smart enough” to begin making their own testosterone, causing the prostate cancer to continue to grow.
Enter French lilac, also known as metformin, commonly used for treatment of Type II diabetes. Previous research shows metformin can protect against specific cancers, such as pancreatic cancer.
In this new study, researchers combined low dose metformin with a low dose of a second drug that inhibits a gene that promotes testosterone in prostate cancer cells. The two drugs worked together synergistically to inhibit proliferation of prostate cancer cells.
For this study, the researchers used a laboratory animal model with human prostate cancer cells. Even at low doses (which are well tolerated by humans), the two drugs together had a “multiplier effect.” In other words, they worked better together than they did individually.
Overall, this study shows the powerful effects of combining two active anti-cancer agents at lower doses for potent synergistic effects. The researchers were amazed at the power of this synergy.
Nutrients in Nature work better together
Of course, in Nature you always find anti-cancer compounds together in healthy foods and plants. Their synergistic effects are impressive. That’s one reason why, for the past century, studies consistently linked certain high-nutrient foods, each containing multiple anti-cancer constituents, with markedly lower risks of virtually all cancers.
On the other hand, when research studies try to pull out and test any single micronutrient or phytochemical, they cancel out any potential synergistic benefits. While searching for the “right dose” of a single magic ingredient, they don’t realize the potent synergistic effects of combining the “right ingredients” at much lower doses.
I always recommend combining active ingredients from natural sources at lower individual doses for the most potent effects in any natural approach to health and healing — and not just to rely on any single “magic bullet.” That’s just not the way Nature works.
“Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D and colorectal cancer risk according to tumour immunity status,” Gut 2016 Feb;65(2):296-304
“Costly Cancer Drug Offers Hope, but Also a Dilemma,” New York Times (www.nytimes.com) 7/6/2008
“FDA Approval for Bevacizumab,” National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov)
“Inhibition of Polo-like Kinase 1 (Plk1) Enhances the Antineoplastic Activity of Metformin in Prostate Cancer,” Journal of Biological Chemistry, January 23, 2015]