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Science and Research

Chicagoans Lack Sufficient Vitamin D

Vitamin D Deficiency Shown to Affect Risk of Cancer

A recent study, headed by Adam B. Murphy, MD, of Northwestern Medicine, links vitamin D deficiencies to three different types of cancers.

According to Dr. Murphy, an assistant professor in urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, "Vitamin D is a steroid hormone. It is not a vitamin. And because it has so many different roles in the body, it can affect cancer pretty easily."

Dr. Murphy and a team of other Chicago urologists found that a large number of African American men with aggressive prostate cancer were more likely to also have vitamin D deficiencies.

But Dr. Murphy says it’s not just men who are at risk. A lack of vitamin D can also aid the formation and progression of breast and colon cancer cells.

Recommended Dose Too Low for Northern Climate

"We found out that about 44 percent of Chicagoans have vitamin D deficiency. And these were people who were taking the recommended daily amount of vitamin D every day," explained Dr. Murphy.

There are two reasons Chicagoans aren’t receiving enough vitamin D, said Dr. Murphy. First, most people are not getting enough sun exposure. Second, the recommended daily dose of vitamin D could be too low for our northern climate.

There is no magic number of units for everyone to be vitamin D sufficient, Dr. Murphy explained. He recommends getting your vitamin D level checked by your physician with a simple blood test.

Meanwhile, eating foods rich in vitamin D such as mushrooms, salmon, tuna, and dairy products can help increase levels.