Daylight Savings Can TRIPLE Risk of Prostate Cancer Death

Daylight Savings Can Triple Risk of Prostate Cancer Death

Written by Dr. Geovanni Espinosa
Posted November 13, 2014

Just over a week ago, you turned all your clocks back an hour. And I’m not going to waste any time telling you what to do next...

Stop what you’re doing and buy yourself a bottle of vitamin D, right now.

Why? Because the sun — your best source of this life-saving nutrient — just hightailed it for the winter. And no amount of outdoor activity is going to make up for this loss (unless, of course, you happen to be a fan of lunchtime polar bear plunges in the buck.)

Otherwise, a supplement is the best backup plan you’ve got. Scratch that—it’s the best plan, period.

Because look—the idea sounds nice and all, but getting all the vitamin D you need from the sun just isn’t practical for most people in any season. These days, you’ve got desk jobs, skin cancer, and the resulting mandatory sunscreen applications to contend with.

But the truth is, even if sunbathing didn’t come with its own very real risks to your health, most people don’t live close enough to the equator —or even get outside enough— to really get yourself to adequate vitamin D levels on sunshine alone.

So the staggering rates of deficiency among Americans in recent years really aren’t that surprising. The consequences, though?

Well, they’re pretty shocking...

I can’t stress this enough — vitamin D deficiency is no joke. Ongoing research has linked low levels to a laundry list of lethal conditions, including but not limited to:

  • fractures
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • dementia
  • depression
  • obesity
  • diabetes

The list goes on...

But in light of our recent conversations, I’d like to direct your attention to the results of one recent study in particular. It showed that vitamin D deficiency has strong ties to prostate cancer. And not just any old prostate cancer, either.

Specifically, these researchers found that men with vitamin D levels below 12 ng/mL were more than three times as likely to be diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease following a prostate biopsy.

If you find those statistics alarming, well, good. Because you can’t afford to ignore them.

Let me say this in the simplest way possible: Aggressive prostate cancer is the kind of prostate cancer that kills. Unlike the less aggressive (and incredibly common) forms of the disease, you shouldn’t “watch and wait” to see what it does. This kind of cancer requires decisive action — in the form of potentially life-altering interventions that swift treatment entails.

So needless to say, it’s important to get the diagnosis right.

Your Gleason score is the main factor here. It’s a combination of two numbers used to “grade” the cancer based on what your biopsy samples look like under a microscope. If your Gleason score is higher than a seven, you’re dealing with something aggressive. And the more cancer-positive “cores” your doctor pulled from your prostate, the higher the risk to you.

Unfortunately, these fairly uncomplicated standards don’t necessarily stop overzealous doctors from pushing interventions on patients who would be just fine without them.

They also don’t change the fact that a lot of men are being biopsied too soon. Or the fact that urologists factor the risk of litigation into their treatment decisions. And they don’t change the fact that biopsy and surgery are sources of income — and very lucrative ones, at that.

The current system incentivizes intervention, full stop. This is a real issue that needs to be addressed — but in the meantime, you’re still going to have to navigate your way through it. Which is exactly why I’m sharing this information with you today.

It’s also why I want you to be paying close attention to your vitamin D levels. Because there’s a good chance that your doctor isn’t. And because keeping them in check is one of the best ways to keep your prostate out of the crosshairs in any scenario.

So here’s the deal: Everyone should get routine vitamin D testing. The absolute best way to determine adequate levels of vitamin D is with a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D blood test. Some practitioners, like me, order it automatically.

If your doctor doesn’t, ask for it. And when the results come in, don’t necessarily take his word on them if he says they’re fine. Make sure you ask for the numbers.

That’s because conventional wisdom says that anything between 30 ng/mL and 100 ng/mL is the proverbial sweet spot — and not surprisingly, that’s total garbage.d

The deficiency threshold for most clinical research may be 30 ng/mL. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a level of 32 ng/mL isn’t much better. Results that low just aren’t good enough.

Personally, I like my patients to be between 60 and 70 ng/mL. Anything below that requires aggressive supplementation.

So what does that mean? Well, first things first, that 600 IU in your men’s daily isn’t going to cut it. In reality, 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 should be the absolute minimum maintenance dosage that anyone takes. (Avoid D2 supplements, which are pretty much worthless in terms of bioavailability — and take your D3 with a fat-rich meal to maximize absorption.)

If you’re a larger guy, packing a few extra pounds, have darker skin, or generally just don’t get outside much, you probably need a lot more than that. I generally start with 4,000 IU in these cases, and sometimes with as much as 10,000 IU daily. Just bear in mind that at these high doses, you really need to be working with a doctor who’s monitoring your levels.

This is especially important if you’re dealing with a high-risk history — if your brother, father, or any other first-degree relative also had prostate cancer. Because the fact is, you do have some level of control over whether or not these genes are activated.

At the end of the day, you’re always in the driver’s seat. All you need is a good roadmap. And if you stick with me, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

Stay tuned and stay well,

Dr. Geo 

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Murphy AB, et al. “Vitamin D deficiency predicts prostate biopsy outcomes.” Clin Cancer Res. 2014 May 1;20(9):2289-99.


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