"Vitamin D enters the cells and triggers the cell death process," said Welsh. She described the processes as "similar to when we treat cells with Tamoxifren [anti-cancer drug which causes adverse reactions in many women]." Researchers repeated the petri-dish experiment in mice, injecting them first with breast cancer cells and then with Vitamin D. After several weeks, the cancer tumors in the mice shrank by 50 percent.
Researchers, led by Dr. Pierre Engel of the INSERM (Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale, the French equivalent to the National Institutes of Health in the U.S), discovered that women living in the areas which received more sunshine had only about half the risk of breast cancer of women who made their homes in areas with less sun.
The sunshine seems to offer a more powerful healing effect than supplements: women who consumed less vitamin D but who got lots of sunshine had a 32 percent lower risk of breast cancer than dwelling in less sunny regions. However, the greatest protection from breast cancer was among women who consumed the high levels of dietary vitamin D and who also received regular, generous sun exposure.
Vitamin D's benefits extend beyond breast health. Recent research has shown it to aid in preventing skin and colon cancers. Also, there is evidence that vitamin D deficiency may be a contributing factor in a host of other ailments besides cancer: depression, obesity, diabetes, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone which enables the body to better absorb calcium. People with dark skin have more difficulty synthesizing vitamin D, as do other hereditary factors. Obesity can also interfere with vitamin D. Certain medications such as anti-seizure drugs and the use of sunscreens block vitamin D. Although vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin from sunshine, in latitudes higher than