Tuesday, July 21, 2009

6. Very Low LDL and Vitamin D

Very low values of LDL leave you at risk to sepsis and cancer not only because cholesterol itself is protective against these things, but also because cholesterol is the precursor to vitamin D, which is also a miracle drug with respect to fighting cancer and sepsis. A strong indicator that LDL is directly tied to vitamin D supply is that low levels of LDL are associated with an increased risk of bone fractures for menopausal women (LDL and Bone Fractures) . Vitamin D is perhaps best known in its role in promoting calcium absorption and therefore keeping bones strong and healthy.

There are many articles on the Web that support the notion that vitamin D protects from a broad range of different cancers. Epidemiologically, there has been found to be a strong inverse correlation between cancer incidence and sunny places. That is, despite the widely-promoted idea that the sun causes cancer, it actually protects from all cancers, due to the fact that sun exposure causes the skin to produce vitamin D. (Sun Protects from Cancer) .

If you have adequate cholesterol in the skin, a mere twenty minutes in the sun per day is enough to get all the vitamin D you need, i.e., on the order 10,000 IU. There is considerable circumstantial evidence that the sun has a healing effect for cancer (by comparing cancer statistics with climate conditions, contrasting sun with rain and north with south). However, it is very difficult to do controlled studies on this effect because it's hard to quantify how much sun exposure was obtained. Most of the controlled studies, therefore, have compared people who took vitamin D supplements with those who didn't. How much vitamin D they obtained naturally then becomes a complicating effect that is difficult to tease apart.

A controlled study published in the American Journal of Nutrition followed three groups of women, one of which was given large doses of Vitamin D along with calcium supplements, the second was given only calcium, and the third was given nothing. The study was not even designed to investigate the relationship between vitamin D and cancer, but rather was interested in the question of bone health. But they discovered by surprise that the group taking vitamin D supplements had a 60% decreased risk for all cancers. (Vitamin D Prevents Cancer) . Another large epidemiological study showed that people who took at least 400 IU/day of vitamin D had a 43% reduced risk for pancreatic cancer. (Vitamin D Protects from Pancreatic Cancer) .

Vitamin D also appears to help you recover from cancer once you're diagnosed with it. This has been shown to be true, for example, for both colon cancer (Vitamin D Fights Colon Cancer) and lung cancer (Vitamin D Fights Lung Cancer) .

Recall that LDL delivers cholesterol to the tissues . Vitamin D is manufactured from cholesterol in the skin upon exposure to sunlight (Vitamin D Synthesized from Cholesterol) . If your LDL is low, then you are not going to be able to supply adequate amounts of cholesterol to the skin, and the result will be severe vitamin D deficiency, and, ultimately, an increased susceptibility to cancer. Even if you spend gobs of time out in the sun, your vitamin D levels will still be low, because your supply chain of LDL is insufficient for production of vitamin D.

However, this process will take some time to be noticed due to the buffering effects for both cholesterol in the skin and vitamin D in the blood. Thus, short term studies will not necessarily reveal the problem, and long-term studies have yet to be done. Chris Masterjohn, in contrasting the situation for vitamin D deficiency with another worrisome consequence of statin usage, coenzyme Q10 depletion, wrote the following:

"We would expect statins to take even longer to cause a drop in vitamin D levels, because, whereas coenzyme Q10 is measured directly in the blood, the 7-dehydrocholesterol takes time to migrate to the surface of the skin and accumulate there. So what is the effect of statins on vitamin D levels one year down the road? Two years? Five? Ten? The truth is we have no idea, because no one has bothered to study it."

Vitamin D also protects against infection, by boosting the effectiveness of the immune system. (Vitamin D and Flu ) . Sepsis comes about as a direct result of an inability to fight off an infection, most often a bacterial infection. Vitamin D plays a critical role both in preventing sepsis and in enabling recovery if it occurs [8],[13],[17] (Vitamin D and Sepsis) .

If you start taking a statin, it will take considerable time before the debilitating effects on vitamin D are felt in the system, because vitamin D has an excellent buffering system. Considerable sun exposure in the summer can give you a stockpile of vitamin D that can often carry you through the winter months. And the cholesterol already in the skin has to be consumed before the deficiency in the supply chain (low LDL) will be apparent. This gives statin manufacturers an opportunity to exploit observed long-term benefits of life-time high vitamin D levels and claim them as short-term benefits of the statin drug that were taken only in the previous few months of a person's life. And what is particularly ironic and disturbing is that the statin drug is in the process of eroding the very benefits for which it is given undue credit.


pandora2 said...

I was shocked to learn during a recent physical that my vitamin D level is only 11. I had been on simvastatin and this was the first D level ever for me. I went to a naturopath who said my LDL of 33 was much too low and also recommended 5000 iu of D3 daily, with lots of labwork done - results pending. The only thing that really makes sense for why such a low D level is the low LDL. I think you are on to something. My MD just told me to take the vitamin D and I insisted on stopping the statin due to joint pain, but I want to know why so low and correct the underlying problem. Thanks!

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