Interviewer: Doctor, let's talk about cancer a little bit, and how Vitamin D may help that disease. and I like the, the example that you gave with the " I Love Lucy" assembly line, seeing one of the classic moments in all of television, but talk about that a little bit, and why you use that example.
Dr. Dowd: So, the question of cancer is how do we think cancer forms, and we think the analogy that I use in the book is the " I Love Lucy" assembly line where she's making candy at the candy factory. And it's a germane example because I come from the Detroit area, and the auto industry is all about assembly lines OK?
So when a cell is going through it's developmental stages, along the way things get added on, and screwed on, and it's like an assembly line. But we know that sometimes things don't get put on correctly, and they need to be corrected OK? But if the assembly line is moving too quickly those corrections can't happen OK? So anything that speeds up cell cycle makes the assembly line move faster is going to adversely affect your risk for cancer, risk for cancer is going to go up.
Anything that doesn't allow the right people to come in, and correct a mistake you're risk is going to go up. Anything that interferes with differentiation, normal differentiation of cells, OK? In this case an assembly line would be well the person who designed the flow of the assembly line designed it wrong, and so things are not progressing normally, OK, will increase your risk for cancer, because what happens is when cells get put together wrong, then they also don't respond to normal control signals, and now they're out of control, OK?
So, in this analogy you can look at all these different points, and Vitamin D is important at all of these points. Vitamin D is important, there's these cell cycle inhibitors, proteins P21, and P27, and when Vitamin D is around P27 can slow cell cycle. When Vitamin D is not around P27 is not activated, and does not slow cell cycle. So cell turnover is faster in the absence of Vitamin D. So the assembly line is moving fast when Vitamin D isn't around.
Vitamin D is also important in normal differentiation of cells. So it cooperates with all these other growth hormones, estrogen, testosterone, symatimines, or human growth hormone. and they all together sit down like a design team, and they say OK here's how we're going to put this together. Now when several pieces of the design team are missing, you're more likely to not put this thing right, together right, and that leads to problems OK? So the absence of Vitamin D can lead to abnormal differentiation of a cell. Whereas in it's presence it follows the normal course of differentiation. And this probably has to do with Vitamin D activating certain genes that are really important in directing cell development.
Vitamin D is also important in apoptosis. Apoptosis is, now say that the car gets to the end of the line, or whatever product it is, I don't want to diss the auto industry it gets to the end of the line, and it's just not working right. They try and, they try and get the toaster to work, and it just, the elements aren't coming on, what are we going to do with it? Well you'd like to destroy the product so it doesn't go to market, or recycle it somehow, and guess what? Vitamin D is right there helping that happen too.
So the term we use in biology is Apoptosis, which is self destruction. Remember Mission Impossible where the tape would self destruct? OK, well this is, Vitamin D can activate that program, and the tape will self destruct, or this defective product will self destruct. Which removes it from a possibility of causing problems down the road.
So, so these are some of the ways that Vitamin D reduces our risk for malignancy, and these things are happening at all life stages of all cells in our body OK? So when you think about it again, I know I've harped on the whole childhood thing, but we believe our risk for things like breast cancer, and prostrate cancer begin in childhood, probably around adolescence when those tissues are undergoing development in adolescence.
So all of a sudden there's a lot of testosterone, and estrogen and then these glands in our prostrate, and our breasts are developing at a rapid rate. What they've shown if they take Vitamin D deficient rats, Vitamin D deficient rat models, that their breast tissue develops completely abnormally, and it had, there's more duct work, the breasts are larger. All of those characteristics correlate with a higher rate of breast cancer in humans. And they're created just making the animal Vitamin D deficient during breast development.
I mean this is, this is a [inaudible]. You start looking at this, you go so maybe if our kids just had more Vitamin D in through through adolescence, early, early your mid-childhood, and adolescence through that cycle where their pre-adolescent, and through adolescence maybe we drop their risk of breast cancer by half or more, or prostrate cancer. So again, it's an example of where because normal Vitamin D levels are promoting normal differentiation of these prostrate, and breast cancer cells, their slowing differentiation down, so it's not this out of hand growth, and development OK? And their using all of these mechanisms to make sure that the prostrate, and the breast are right sized, and normal architecture, and that can only serve you well as your breasts go through their life cycle in your lifetime. And again, so something going on during development, during the construction phase of things, because of the absence of Vitamin D increases your risk of a disease at the back end of life in your 50's and 60's. And so Vitamin D is a really critical nutrient on all kinds of levels for lowering your risk for cancer.
What role can vitamin D play when it comes to cancer? Dr. James Dowd is an expert in vitamin d and has authored a book on the subject. Here, he discusses the role vitamin D plays in cell development, cell replication and cell death. He also discusses how it may ultimately help reduce the risk of a number of cancers.
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