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Newsletter: All politics are local

Posted on: December 5, 2004   by  John Cannell, MD

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What can you do to end the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency? Numerous readers have written the Vitamin D Council, asking what they can do. You can do four things: educate yourself, educate your friends and community, educate your physician, and educate one other person. This last person is very important. He oversees the ways and means to spend federal tax dollars on medical research.

The first three things you can do by reading. Read our general web site, cholecalciferol-council.com, read our new web site about vitamin D and cancer, vitamindcouncl.org, read other alternative web sites, Mercola or Sullivan, and then tell your doctor what you’ve learned. An excellent free booklet can be downloaded about vitamin D deficiency, Sunlight Robbery, written by the former medical correspondent to the Sunday Times. Download it, print it, read it, and then take it to your doctor. It also helps to take your doctor abstracts of actual medical studies, such as those you can open and print out on our web site. (I have not had the time to update the research page with PubMed links of studies published over the last 12 months so recent research links are missing).

Make no mistake; it will take time to educate yourself, your friends, your neighbors, your community organizations, and the public about vitamin D. It may take even longer to educate your doctor. Most physicians are so busy with ill patients that they have little time for any but proven therapies (and vitamin D therapy is hardly proven). Others are hostile to any kind of natural treatment as they remember fraudulent treatments, like Laetrile, or disproved ones, such as beta-carotene. Furthermore, physicians are trained to think that something causes disease, such as a toxin or an infectious agent. They find it difficult to believe that the absence of something causes disease. Just read the history of beri-beri and pellagra and how many decades it took the medical profession to accept that a deficiency of thiamine and niacin, respectively, caused those diseases.

So this will be a long slow struggle, but hardly a hopeless one. For example, word will spread about Vieth’s remarkable report last month on the use of simple vitamin D to successfully retard the growth of prostate cancer. Cancer patients don’t want to die. Many become voracious consumers of information available on the Internet. They will learn about Vieth’s results and start taking vitamin D. Of course, they may want to take more than the 2,000 units Vieth used to demonstrate a positive effect on prostate cancer. If I had prostate cancer, or any serious cancer, I’d take 10,000 units of cholecalciferol a day for two months and then reduce it to 6,000 units a day, following my 25(OH)D levels. I’d do this in addition to, not instead of, standard cancer treatment, knowing that the risk of any adverse effects of such doses of vitamin D is minimal while the benefits may include saving my life.

We will also start posting case reports. For example, we hope to soon report the 12 month survival of a nearly miraculous case. Seven months ago a man was diagnosed with a stage four (multiple distant metastasis), highly aggressive, non-small cancer of the lung. His case appeared to be so hopeless that oncologists at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas advised against any attempt at definitive treatment, instead telling him to prepare to die. He started taking 6,000 units of cholecalciferol per day immediately after learning his tissue diagnosis. Today, after two brain surgeries, one chest surgery, chemotherapy, and vitamin D, he is alive and anatomically free of cancer. Interestingly, he tolerated chemotherapy without any noticeable ill effects; last month’s conference included a presentation suggesting vitamin D may make chemotherapy less toxic to patients. We will post similar cases if we can verify them.The Internet is our greatest friend. Remember, the Vitamin D Newsletters are not copyrighted and any of them can be posted on Internet newsgroups by anyone who wants to do so. Please post them, including this one. In time, the word will spread, some patients with chronic illness will take adequate doses of vitamin D, many will slowly improve, and the word will spread even faster. Unfortunately, many will die needlessly in the meantime. (It is important to again say that vitamin D in adequate doses should be taken in addition to proven medical treatments, never instead of proven treatments).

Remember, that vitamin D treatment of illness is still unproved. With the exception of three small clinical studies on mood, two studies on hypertension, one report on osteoarthritis, one study on multiple sclerosis, one study on chronic pain, one study on type 2 diabetes, and Vieth’s recent report on prostate cancer, vitamin D research is plagued by the absence of controlled human clinical trails. Such trials require money and the federal government has more money than anyone I know.

So the final thing I’m asking you do is to write a letter. Type it out on your letterhead. Even better, write it by hand. I’m asking you to contact one man in Washington, a man you may never have heard of. If you have, perhaps you don’t like the fact he is a Republican. Just remember, he’s in a position to help us. He also knows all politics is local.

He is the Congressman for the 22nd U.S. Congressional District and, as much as anyone, controls the purse strings in Washington. His name is Bill Thomas and he is the Chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee. He also happens to be the congressional representative of the Vitamin D Council, that is, we are headquartered in his district (in an office in my bedroom).

All federal spending bills require Bill Thomas’ approval. None of your tax dollars get spent before they pass through his Ways and Means Committee. The Vitamin D Council will be conducting a grassroots campaign in the 22nd Congressional District over the next several years aimed at eliciting Mr. Thomas’s support for more clinical research on vitamin D. Mr. Thomas has a reputation of being open to new ideas and very responsive to his constituents.

You can help us get started. Contact Bill Thomas’ office at the address below and ask him to see that the ways and means be created to force the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund research about vitamin D, especially clinical trials. Letters are more effective than phone calls or e-mails but calls and e-mails are better than nothing.

The sad fact is that the NIH will not fund research on vitamin D unless forced to do so. None of the vitamin D experts in the country even work at the NIH. Like most physicians, and for many of the same reasons, most of the staff at the NIH are openly hostile to vitamin D research. Therefore it is important that you ask Mr. Thomas to see to it that the NIH actively solicits research on vitamin D. That is, we want the NIH to ask qualified scientists to submit grant proposals about vitamin D and agree to fund the best ones.

The NIH does this by issuing a request for a proposal. So be sure you tell Mr. Thomas you want the NIH to issue requests for proposals (RFP) asking for grant submissions by qualified scientists to conduct clinical studies using adequate doses of vitamin D (cholecalciferol). NIH assurance that they will fairly consider any such grant proposals if they are submitted in a routine manner is disingenuous. They will not. Any vitamin D researcher will tell you their grant proposals to the NIH are routinely ignored. So it is important that you ask Mr. Thomas to “direct the NIH to issue RFPs.” The points to make when you contact his office include:

  • Ask Mr. Thomas to ensure that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issues RFPs to conduct clinical trials of vitamin D in cancer, hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, multiple sclerosis, periodontal disease, and autoimmune disease (as impossible as it sounds, scientific evidence exists suggesting physiological doses of vitamin D may help all those conditions).
  • Ensure that the NIH issues RFPs to conduct more basic science research on vitamin D.
  • Ensure that the NIH sponsor a yearly conference on vitamin D
  • Ensure that the NIH formally ask the Institute of Medicine to reconvene the Food and Nutrition Board’s subcommittee on vitamin D, which is almost eight years out-of-date.
  • Ensure that the NIH begin a public education campaign concerning vitamin D deficiency.

It is also a waste of time and money to use sub-physiological doses of vitamin D in clinical trials, such as 1,000 units. Negative findings using low doses fail to answer the question. Doses need to be in the high physiological or pharmacological range in order to adequately prove or disprove clinical effectiveness. Doses need to be between 4,000 and 10,000 units of cholecalciferol per day (followed with 25(OH)D levels), depending on the seriousness of the disease being treated. Hostility to studying vitamin D to treat illness is so widespread at the NIH, I can see them funding a researcher to treat cancer patients with 1,000 units a day, find no effect, and then publicize the results as proof they were right all along. So be sure you mention, “adequate physiological doses of cholecalciferol.”

Also, it would help us if you mention the Vitamin D Council. Contact information:

Bill Thomas
Chairman, House Ways and Means
2208 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Ph. 202-225-2915 Fx. 202-225-8798

Letters are better than phone calls and emails but calls and emails are better than nothing.
Although this effort will take years, the longest journey starts with the first step. Take yours today by contacting Bill Thomas (and ask your friends to do the same, especially any friends that live in the 22nd Congressional District). By providence or a stroke of fortune, the Vitamin D Council is in his district. All politics is local.

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