Copied from Ex physicist preaches Vitamin D's benefits UT San Diego April 2013
ENCINITAS — To Leo Baggerly, a retired physicist living within sight of Leucadia’s coastline, vitamin D is not just another supplement taking up space between the Ginkgo biloba and aspirin in the medicine cabinet.
It is, to this cancer survivor, something the whole world should know about.
“Vitamin D is an absolutely fascinating molecule, and an awful lot of people happen to be vitamin D deficient,” Baggerly told me on Wednesday, as we sat in his living room with an ocean view.
He spent 25 years teaching physics in universities all over the country, and held jobs with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the National Institutes of Health, among other places. So he understands the chemistry of vitamin D better than most.
But a personal experience cemented his resolve to preach, as it were, the merits of one little organic molecule.
Baggerly and his wife, Carol, arrived in San Diego in 1992, the year he retired from physics work.
Eight years later he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and, in 2005, Carol Baggerly was diagnosed with breast cancer.
His disease was treated with chemotherapy and radiation, as was Carol’s, though she also underwent surgery.
But a visit to Carol’s practitioner in 2007 focused the couple’s interest in cancer in a whole new direction.
“Carol was looking for better ways to do things — how can we take care of cancer better?” Baggerly recalled. “In 2007, her primary care physician noted that she was close to osteoporosis, and Carol says, ‘What’s that?’ Well, it’s the enfeebling of the bones. He says, ‘Maybe you’re vitamin D deficient.’ And she says, ‘What’s that?’”
As a scientist, Baggerly understood more about the standard cancer regimen than most patients. In one of his jobs as a physicist, for example, he spent five years studying the way X-rays scatter, leaving traces of radiation behind.
He knew what toxic chemicals and invasive surgery did to the body. But what he didn’t know at the time was that more researchers were suggesting that a compound produced by the skin during exposure to ultraviolet light could be essential to preventing breast cancer and other deadly forms of the disease.
“There’s a lot known about cancer and vitamin D, but it’s known to vitamin D researchers. Oncologists, by and large, don’t read those papers,” Baggerly said.
Within months, the Baggerlys were absorbing all the information they could about vitamin D. They soon met Cedric Garland, one of the pioneers in the field who works at UCSD, and soon Carol was on her way to a major vitamin D conference hosted by the National Institutes of Health.
“Well, Carol, listening to all this stuff (at the conference), said, ‘Where is your sense of urgency?
You guys know all of this, but my oncologist didn’t know this. Why isn’t the word getting out?’” Baggerly recalled.
“We took our motor home that summer and went around to visit” the top vitamin D researchers in the country, he continued. “After that summer, we were corresponding with about 25 of the best researchers, and … their message was quite simple: ‘Get your vitamin D level to between 40 and 60 nanograms per milliliter.’”
To most people, that translates into 4,000-5,000 international units per day, if taken orally, or some time spent in the sun, with durations based on skin tone.
But Baggerly, who now spends his time contributing to a website called GrassrootsHealth.net, is careful to point out the research that shows wide variation in the way each body processes vitamin D.
In other words, if you’re truly interested in maintaining proper levels, you’ll need a blood test.
Then, after a consistent regimen of the supplement, another test to see how much your body absorbed.
“Dr. Garland now characterizes breast cancer as primarily a vitamin D deficiency disease, in the manner of rickets and scurvy and the other deficiency diseases,” he said.
“They do a lipid panel routinely as part of the annual checkup, but they don’t routinely check vitamin D. They should.”
Contact Tom Pfingsten at fallbrooktown at gmail.com.
Search VitaminDWiki for GrassrootsHealth 229 hits as of March 2014