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Can vitamin D be increased inside a cell?

Posted on: May 5, 2012   by  John Cannell, MD


Professor Heide Cross of the Medical University of Vienna has made major discoveries concerning vitamin D. In particular, she wanted to find ways of increasing the amount of activated vitamin D inside of cells. Working in her lab in Austria, she discovered that several common supplements increase the amount of activated vitamin D inside of cancer cells. They do this by increasing the enzyme that makes activated vitamin D or inhibiting the enzyme that destroys vitamin D.

Those substances, given along with high doses of vitamin D, should increase the amount of activated vitamin D inside of cells, especially cancer cells. Her discoveries may have major clinical applications in cancer and other diseases.

Cross HS, Nittke T, Kallay E. Colonic vitamin D metabolism: implicLori Schreier
916 River Road
Westmoreland, New Hampshire 03467ations for the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2011 Dec 5;347(1-2):70-9.

When you take vitamin D, the liver turns it into the primary building block, 25(OH)D. That building block than goes inside cells in 38 tissues where an enzyme (1-hydroxyase) turns it into the remarkable seco-steroid hormone we all know about. However, inside the same cell is another enzyme, the 24-hydroxylase, whose job is to decrease vitamin D levels.

The two enzymes act in unison to keep activated vitamin D levels inside cells in balance. However, If one could give something that increased the activity of the 1-hydroxylase or something that decreased the activity of the 24-hydroxylase, the effect would be the same, an increase in activated vitamin D inside of cells. Such manipulations could help treat cancer patients. Essentially, this is Professor Cross’s life work.

She is particularly interested in colon cancer, knowing that one of the first things high-grade tumors seek out and destroy is the 1-hydroxylase. Then they find the 24-hydroxylase and dramatically increase it, thus effectively destroying the vitamin D system, which some believe to be the main natural defense against cancer.

However, sometimes physicians detect colon cancers before they have the opportunity to wreck this havoc. Or the tumors are low grade and have not had either the time or inclination to attack the vitamin D system yet. This is where Dr. Cross comes in.

She has discovered that estrogen facilities or increases the good enzyme, the 1-hydroxlyase, in colon cancer. This may be the reason that women who take estrogen after menopause have a reduced risk of colon cancer. Indeed, it may be the reason women live five to six years longer than men do.

She also made major discoveries concerning the other enzyme, the 24-hydroxylase. Low calcium intake will increase production of this destructive enzyme, while an ingredient in soy, genestein, as well as a B vitamin, folate, inhibit the 24-hydroxylase. Remember, inhibiting the 24-hydroxylase will increase the amount of activated vitamin D inside of cells.

In theory, if the cancer has not yet destroyed the vitamin D system, the amount of activated vitamin D inside the cell is increased, and the mechanisms Dr. Cross discovered can be used in the treatment of cancer.

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