Relaxing in the bright sunshine on a warm autumn day does more than lift your spirits; it also stimulates your body to produce huge amounts of vitamin D. Often called the 'sunshine vitamin,' vitamin D is not really a vitamin at all, but rather a versatile hormone produced by the body in response to sunlight.
When a person is exposed to the sun, a cascade of chemical reactions begins in the skin and converts vitamin D produced in the skin into the active form of vitamin D through further modification in the liver and kidneys. Researchers have known for a long time that vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium to build strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D also helps to strengthen the immune system and seems to protect against some types of cancers and as well as other diseases. Scientists and researchers worldwide are working to understand and capitalize on the process to prevent and/or treat as many as 17 types of cancer.
Evidence of vitamin D's protective effect against cancer is compelling. Regular sun exposure is associated with lower mortality rates from certain kinds of cancers. Some studies indicate that vitamin D may help prevent cancer of the breast, colon, ovaries and prostate. A recent report indicated those individuals with higher levels of vitamin D in the blood had as much as a 50% lower cancer risk of many types for cancer.
Currently scientists at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, under the direction of Donald Trump, MD, Associate Director, and Candace Johnson, PhD, Senior Vice President for Translational Research are analyzing vitamin D in cancer prevention and treatment. Their focus is on the most potent form of vitamin D - calcitriol - which has many roles in how the body's immune system reacts to challenges and how cancer cells grow.
In the laboratory, scientists are examining the molecular and vascular mechanisms of vitamin D to help define how to make the vitamin more effective in fighting disease. In the clinics, studies are trying to determine if linking calcitriol with chemotherapy will be a new treatment option for patients diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Dr. Trump has significant experience with the clinical aspects of vitamin D in the treatment of solid tumors and has performed more clinical trials in cancer with vitamin D than anyone else in the world.