Where you live makes a difference when it comes to cancer

Every few years, the CDC trots out cancer rates by state. And where you live DOES make a difference when it comes to cancer, but not for the reasons you might think. These state-by-state correlations have very little to do with obesity. Or poverty. Or access to health care. I’ll explain more about that in a moment. But first, let’s look at the numbers…

The U.S. states with the highest cancer rates, in order, are:

  • Kentucky
  • Delaware
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • Louisiana
  • Connecticut
  • New York
  • Iowa
  • Michigan

At first glance, you might think these states have little in common.

But look again.

With the exception of Louisiana, not one of these states belongs to the “sun belt.” In fact, nine out of the top-10 cancer states sit north of Atlanta, Georgia. Far north.

Why does that matter?

Well, as you’ll recall, no one who lives north of this city in the U.S. gets enough sunshine from October through April to activate their skin’s own vitamin D production.

On the other hand, states you associate with sunshine–like Florida, California, and Arizona–have among the lowest rates of cancer. That might also surprise you, since these states boast large numbers of older and retired adults. As you know, cancer risk increases with age. And cancer rates are adjusted for age.

But exposure to sunshine might be a bigger factor. And it’s obviously not that more sunshine equals more cancer, as the “photophobes” would have us believe.

I think more sunshine and more vitamin D protects against cancers. I have a feeling my friend and colleague from Boston University–Dr. Michael Holick–would agree with my theory. He’s an international expert on vitamin D. And wrote an informative book that I’ve mentioned before called, The Vitamin D Solution.

Dr. Holick asserts vitamin D is absolutely critical to health. Yes, it’s an essential vitamin. But, Dr. Holick argues it really behaves like a hormone in the human body. And it affects gene expression in cells and tissues throughout the body.

Why is that a big deal?

Well, genes contain your DNA. So gene expression involves how your genes communicate their coded information within the cell. Your genes tell your cells which proteins and enzymes to make. And Dr. Holick says vitamin D profoundly affects this process.

In fact, Dr. Holick and his colleagues found that vitamin D deficiency negatively affected the expression of 66 different genes. But taking a vitamin D supplement (400 IU or 2,000 IU per day) positively affected the expression of 291 different genes. These included genes that helped with DNA repair, immune response, and response to stress.

Vitamin D deficiency is a huge problem throughout the U.S. But it’s an even bigger problem for people who live in colder, northern states.

In fact, five of the eight states in the country with the highest prostate cancer rates make the list of colder, northern states. Four of the nine states with the highest breast cancer rates make this list. Three of the top six for colon cancer make it. And three of the top nine for lung cancer make it too.

The CDC wants us to believe that being overweight or obese contributes to cancer in the states with high cancer rates. But only three of the top-10 cancer states have high obesity rates! And on the flip side, many states with high obesity rates don’t make this top-10 cancer list.

Of course, the CDC also wants us to believe tobacco causes a lot of cancers. But only two of the top-10 cancer states are particularly high in smoking–Kentucky and Louisiana.

On the other hand, seven out of the top-10 cancer states are so-called “blue states.” And they continuously issue politically correct government edicts against behaviors like smoking, drinking, and eating. So, what else is going on?

Plus, some of the richest states make the top-10 cancer list. So what about the government’s contention that cancer and other chronic diseases result from poverty? And from limited access to quality health care? Why are people in states with more “whole food” grocery chains and “boutique” doctors getting cancer at such high rates?

When you look past the rhetoric, the statistics don’t support the politically correct theories about cancer.

It seems the government doesn’t want us to know about other risk factors for cancer. It wants to point the finger at behaviors you can control (using guilt again). Instead of at environmental pollutants, pesticides, food additives, contaminated personal care products, and toxic water supplies. Not to mention drug side effects. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about them.

Spring is just around the corner. Once April hits, get outside and spend some time in the sun–without sunblock. And get some healthy outdoor exercise too. Eat a balanced diet to include green, leafy vegetables, healthy meats, and essential fats. If your diet cannot always be ideal, strongly consider supplementing with vitamins B, C, D, and E. As well as magnesium and selenium. And don’t take iron supplements unless you have been diagnosed by your physician with iron-deficiency anemia.

For many, all of these recommendations will do more to protect against cancer than the politically correct advice doled out by the government “experts.”


1. “Cancer Rates by State,” Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) 10/24/2013