Designs for Health Research & Education Blog

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Assessing and Supporting Methylation Pathways

The topic of methylation has become more and more popular over the past few years. Methylation is a crucial biochemical process that is essential for the normal function of almost all of our body’s systems. It helps repair our DNA on a daily basis and regulates homocysteine metabolism. In addition, methylation is needed for detoxification and keep inflammation under control. Methylation requires certain cofactors such as B vitamins. When we are deficient in certain B vitamins methylation breaks...Read more

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need to Prevent Osteoporosis?

Vitamin D is essential to keep our bones from developing osteoporosis, but how much do we need? Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicineshow that we need more than 800 IU per day to lower the risk of developing osteoporosis. A study published in the NEJM in June of 2012 showed that there were 30% fewer hip fractures and 14% of all fractures in people in the highest quartile of vitamin D level than the lowest. While the Institute of Medicine and the US Preventive Services...Read more

Fat does not necessarily make you fat

Supplementation with both CLA and omega 3 fatty acids in a recent study helped prevent increased abdominal fat mass and raised fat-free mass and adiponectin levels in younger obese individuals without deleteriously affecting insulin...Read more

Manufactured on Dating use on Designs for Health Products

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for the regulation of dietary supplements manufactured in, and sold within the United States. Involved in this regulation is the establishment of good manufacturing practices (GMPs) for the production of dietary supplements. Parts of these GMPs address issues related to the shelf life. Specifically, in regard to expiration dating of dietary supplements, FDA has published this comment quoted from the Final Rule on GMPs for supplements,...Read more

Supplementation with lutein found to increase biological antioxidant potential

In a study involving 20 healthy term newborns, supplementation with lutein at 12 and 36 hours after birth was found to be associated with increases in biological antioxidant potential, a marker of antioxidant power, and a reduction in total hydroperoxides, a marker of oxidative stress, 48 hours after...Read more

Did you know? Prostate health is best addressed proactively.

Prostate health is best addressed proactively. Several natural compounds including nettle leaf and saw palmetto can provide tremendous preventative health...Read more

So many calcium options, so very confusing

Calcium carbonate, calcium hydroxapetite, calcium citrate…There are so many different forms of calcium available to both the consumer and the clinician that it is difficult for most of us to answer the questions as to which form is best or which is the most absorbable, and so on.New science has come to the rescue, providing us with answers to the vexing questions of calcium metabolism. First up is the most common form of commercially available calcium, calcium carbonate. This is the form found...Read more

Can't Take the Pressure? 1 in 4 Suffer from High Blood Pressure

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, one in four Americans suffers with the potential destructive effects of high blood pressure (HBP). In spite of this significant number, what may be more disconcerting is that… One in five of those who have HBP don’t even know they have it, and Three-quarters of people diagnosed with HBP were overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. The good news is proper diagnosis and treatment can cut the risk of stroke by up to 40% and heart attack by...Read more

Did you know? Carotenoids can modulate the immune system

Carotenoids, the powerful antioxidants found in many colorful fruits and vegetables can also modulate the immune system and help optimize the health of the gastrointestinal...Read more

Depression: not all in your head

Have you been diagnosed with depression because of one or more of the following symptoms? Suffering a depressed mood most of the day nearly every day Markedly diminished interest in activities Significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain Sleeping more than usual or having difficulty sleeping Feeling fatigued nearly every day Feeling worthless or inappropriately guilty Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions Thinking about death or attempting suicide Believe it or not,...Read more

Did you know? Post-menopausal Women Low in Vitamin D

A Spanish study determined that a significant proportion of post-menopausal women are chronically low in vitamin D, a nutrient known for its anti-cancer and pro-immune...Read more

Why Menopause Disrupts Quality Sleep

Eight Hours? The concept of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep for women in the midst of menopause may be more wishful thinking than actual reality. According to a comprehensive report on menopause and sleep by the National Sleep Foundation, 61 percent of women between the ages of 45 and 60 say they suffer from sleeplessness and other sleep problems.  This may be a more serious concern than these sufferers may realize, as recent research shows that poor sleep or lack of sleep can raise...Read more

Health Promotion with Periobiotic Toothpaste

Imbalance bacteria and poor dental hygiene can lead not only to cavities and gum disease, but also to elevated levels of inflammation in the body causing heart disease and other inflammatory conditions.  This inflammation can be measured by a blood test called CRP, short for C-Reactive Protein.  Results of a study published May 27, 2010 in the online British Medical Journal showed, after adjustment for established risk factors, that participants who reported less frequent tooth...Read more

Love is a many splendored thing

You may be wondering why an alternative health care blog would be discussing the finer points of love and romantic relationships. Well, it’s a well established fact that a happy, supportive, nurturing and thriving partnership can be an essential and vital part of creating a healthy mind, spirit and body. As most of us at one time or another have experienced, the bloom of a new romance and its initial excitement will eventually wear off. When that occurs, a firm foundation based on certain...Read more

Manufactured on Dating use on Designs for Health Products

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for the regulation of dietary supplements manufactured in, and sold within the United States. Involved in this regulation is the establishment of good manufacturing practices (GMPs) for the production of dietary supplements. Parts of these GMPs address issues related to the shelf life. Specifically, in regard to expiration dating of dietary supplements, FDA has published this comment quoted from the Final Rule on GMPs for supplements,...Read more

Metabolic Syndrome and Nutrient Deficiencies: What You Should Know

Metabolic Syndrome is a condition comprised of a group of physical and pathological markers which include central obesity defined by hip and waist measurements, together with at least two of the four following metabolic risk factors: raised triglycerides, reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, raised blood pressure, and raised fasting plasma glucose (blood sugar). One way to help counteract the development of this chronic condition that many times leads to diabetes and...Read more

How our home's air quality can impact our overall health

While maintaining a healthy home environment means promoting a healthy lifestyle, many Americans aren’t aware of how indoor air quality can influence their vitality and well being. The truth is that improved indoor air quality can lead to a healthier standard of living for you and your family. For instance, studies have demonstrated that indoor air quality of the home can have either positive or negative effects on cardiovascular health. Breathing in allergens and air particulates can cause...Read more

Health Benefits of Fish Oils

The importance of fish oils in human health cannot be overstated. These omega 3 fatty acids carry with them an expansive range of health benefits, including: Anti-inflammatory – useful for any inflammatory condition, such as arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, cystitis Immune system support – useful in the inflammatory condition, such as arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, cystitis Supports a healthy lipid profile (total cholesterol, LDLs, HDLs) Essential for a healthy pregnancy and for the healthy...Read more

Bio-identical Nutrients: A Designs for Health Commitment

Many nutrients occur in various forms, and not all are created equally. Nutrients that occur in nature, from plants and animals, are in specific forms that are optimally bioactive when ingested when foods are eaten, or supplements containing them are taken. In fact, it is often the form of the nutrient that determines both its effectiveness and its safety. However, many nutrients found in nutritional supplements are not in the exact bio-identical form found in nature. This occurs for various...Read more

ADHD and the food connection

According to the CDC and the American Psychiatric Association 3%-7% of school-aged children have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). However, studies have estimated higher rates in community samples. As of 2007, approximately 9.5%, or 5.4 million children, 4-17 years of age have been diagnosed with ADHD. The percentage of children with a parent-reported ADHD diagnosis increased by 22% between 2003 and 2007 while rates of ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997...Read more

Insights into the genesis of diabetes.

Most newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics tend to have one thing in common: obesity.Exactly how diet and obesity trigger diabetes has long been the subject of intense scientific research. As the science pertaining to diabetes continues to evolve, insights into the mechanisms of its genesis become clearer and more defined. Pancreatic beta cells, which are responsible for creating and releasing insulin, appear to be a significant center of attention of the disease’s onset and its severity. In healthy...Read more

The spice of life.

The more that researchers and scientists investigate the health benefits of various foods and naturally occurring consumable substances, the more amazing is the profundity of how what we eat impacts: Our health Mood, and Propensity towards certain disease states. It is also equally amazing, in light of this cutting edge information, how much we as consumers take for granted the impact seeming innocuous foods have on our bodies. Herbs and spices for instance, contain high amounts of polyphenols...Read more

Exercise. It's better than you thought.

For many of us who may exercise less than what experts recommend, the last thing we want to hear is more annoying prodding and cajoling as to why we should get off of our lazy duffs and hit the gym or pavement. But, while most of us realize and understand the fundamental health gains of long term, habitual training,  like improving our cardiovascular health and the signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome    (which also includes obesity, insulin resistance and type 2...Read more

Welcome to the new Designs for Health Research & Education Blog.

Just when you think you know a real lot about nutrition, you realize how much more there is to know.  Never in my lifetime has there been so much information shared from so many sources, and so fast.  Rather than considering it overwhelming, we should consider it exciting.  We all want to keep up with the science – those of us on the information front and those of you in the trenches, helping to mend people back to health.  We need to team up.   DFH is dedicated to...Read more

Vitamin D Levels Linked to Aggressive Breast Cancer

Posted on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 @ 10:15 AM

A recently published study finds low blood levels of vitamin D may promote more aggressive breast tumors.

The relatioCapsulesnship between low vitamin D levels and higher risk of developing breast cancer has been previously documented in numerous studies. Women with inadequate intake of Viamin D or with low blood levels (below 55ng/ml) have very poor prognosis and higher risk of metastatic disease and death from breast cancer.

This study from a team at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), is one of the first to look for links between vitamin D blood levels and the risk for aggressive tumors in women already diagnosed with breast cancer. This study highlights the importance of testing vitamin D levels in women diagnosed with breast cancer. If needed, Vitamin D should be supplemented and blood levels should be monitored. According to Michael Holick, M.D., authority on Vitamin D, immune modulating and cancer protective levels are between 55ng/ml-80ng/ml. More aggressive forms of breast cancer include Her2neu positive breast cancers. as well as triple negative breast cancers ( tumors which do not have receptors for estrogen, progesterone or Her2neu.)

This study links low vitamin D levels to a higher risk for aggressive breast cancers.

The study’s authors examined various key factors related to breast cancer prognosis among 155 women who underwent surgery for breast cancer between January 2009 and September 2010.

They also obtained blood samples for all the patients within the one-year period before and after surgery, to get accurate vitamin D levels.

Meanwhile, the researchers collected relevant breast cancer data on each patient including age, race, menopause status, stage of cancer at diagnosis, estrogen and progesterone status, HER2 expression, gene expression, and Oncotype Dx score.

Oncotype Dxis a newer diagnostic test for early-stage breast cancer that looks at a group of 21 genes within a woman’s tumor sample and issues a score between 0 and 100 that predicts the likelihood of a recurrence. A higher risk of recurrence is usually reflected in scores greater than 30.

Finally, the women were separated into two groups, based on whether their vitamin D levels were deemed “optimal” or “sub-optimal” – This study used greater or less than 32 ng/ml as a demarcation, far lower than Dr. Holick's recommended optimal levels.

The URMC team’s statistical analysis showed that cancers known to be more aggressive – such as triple-negative tumors – correlated with low vitamin D levels.

Lower vitamin D levels were also strongly linked to increasing (i.e., riskier) Oncotype scores.

Patients with invasive cancer were also more likely to have sub-optimal vitamin D levels.

The authors arrived at two key conclusions, which led them to recommend vitamin D blood tests for cancer patients, and vitamin D injections or supplements as needed: “Breast cancer patients with suboptimal vitamin D levels were more likely to have tumors with more aggressive tumor profiles and worse prognostic markers, lending support to previous research that found decreased breast cancer survival among vitamin D deficient individuals.” “In addition, this study found that suboptimal vitamin D levels were not only associated with poor prognostic markers of survival (ER- and triple negative tumors) but also increased risk of recurrence (Oncotype scores).”

It’s worth noting that the premenopausal and black women in this study were more likely to have sub-optimal vitamin D levels, compared to postmenopausal white women.

Food rich in Vitamin D include oily fish such as cod, salmon, oysters, herring, mackerel, sardines and trout. For more food sources see a list of foods high in Vitamin D.

Vitamin D blood levels can also be raised by exposing the skin to sunlight. Vitamin D is produced in the body by exposing the skin to sunlight for 30 minutes a day.

It seems clear that Breast Cancer prevention includes maintaining adequate Vitamin D levels by including cold water oily fish in the diet, using oral vitamin supplementation and with prudent exposure to sunlight.


Holick, M.F. 2006. High prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy and implications for health. Mayo Clin. Proc. 81(3):353-373.

Grant, W.B., Lower vitamin-D production from solar ultraviolet-B Irradiance may explain some differences in cancer survival rates. Journal of the National Medical Association. 2006; 98(3):357-64.

Gorham ED, Garland CF, Garland FC, Grant WB, Mohr SB, Lipkin M, Newmark HL, Giovannucci E, Wei M, Holick MF. Vitamin D and prevention of colorectal cancer. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2005; 97(1-2):179-194.

Rickles A, Peppone L, Huston A, Piazza K, Skinner K. Poster Presentation #1701 - Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Prognostic Tumor Characteristics in Breast Cancer Patients. Scientific Session Abstracts Official Proceedings Volume 18. The American Society of Breast Surgeons 12th Annual Meeting, April 27 - May 1, 2011, Washington, DC. Accessed at

University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). Aggressive Breast Tumors Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency. April 29, 2011. Accessed at

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Dr. Nalini Chllkov is a well known expert and leader in the field of Integrative Health and Alternative Cancer Care. She has developed a system which combines the best of modern science and wellness medicine.  This system is based on individualized care and a model of natural health and longevity for cancer patients and cancer survivors. Visit to learn more.