Guest Blogger

William Grant PhD

William Grant PhD

William B. Grant has Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley (1971). He had a 30-year career in atmospheric sciences with an emphasis on laser remote sensing of atmospheric constituents such as ozone and aerosols, with positions at SRI International (1973-79), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology (1979-89) and NASA Langley Research Center (1989-2004).

In the early 1990s, he worked on a project for the Sierra Club to determine the effect of acid rain and ozone on eastern U.S. hardwood forests. In that project he learned how to use the ecological approach, where populations are defined geographically. He applied this approach in 1997 in a multi-country study regarding Alzheimer’s disease. He found that total fat and total caloric supply were the most important risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease while fish and diets comprised primarily of cereals/grains reduced the risk. This was the first paper reporting dietary risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

In 1999, after seeing the Atlas of Cancer Mortality Rates in the United States, 1950-94, he set about to try to explain the geographical variations showing low rates for many types of cancer in the Southwest and high rates in the Northeast. This led to his interest in the roles of ultraviolet-B (UVB) and vitamin D in reducing the risk of cancer, leading to publishing a seminal paper in Cancer in 2002 identifying ten types of cancer for which higher solar UVB doses were protective on top of the five known prior to then. This study led to many more studies on the role of solar UVB and vitamin D in the risk of cancer, with many studies supporting the findings of this study.

He retired from NASA in 2004 to work on health studies full time, forming the non-profit organization Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco, California. The main emphasis of this organization is to do research and education on the primary risk factors for chronic and infectious diseases with an emphasis on solar ultraviolet irradiance, vitamin D, and diet.

He has also investigated the role of UVB and vitamin D in reducing risk of autism, dementia, cardiovascular disease, hospital-acquired infections, influenza, multiple sclerosis, pneumonia, and several other types of disease. He has also used observational data to estimate the reductions in mortality rate and health care expenses from doubling vitamin D levels at the population level. It appears that mortality rates can be reduced by about 15% and life expectancy increased by about two years.

He has over 175 publications on vitamin D, and many others on various health topics.

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Blog Posts by William Grant PhD

  • Vitamin D and Old Age

    Vitamin D and Old Age

    Having high vitamin D levels is important for all ages. However, vitamin D levels generally decline in old age while at the same time risk of diseases linked to low vitamin D levels increases. Thus, maintaining high vitamin D levels at this age is very important. The primary reasons that vitamin D levels decrease with […]

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  • Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Diseases

    Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Diseases

    There is mounting evidence that vitamin D plays an important role in reducing risk of developing cardiovascular disease as well as the diseases that often precede it such as diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney disease. The category cardiovascular disease includes coronary heart disease (heart attack), stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and congestive heart failure. Several observational […]

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  • The Role of Vitamin D in Fighting Infectious Diseases

    The Role of Vitamin D in Fighting Infectious Diseases

    Vitamin D has at least two ways of reducing the risk of infectious diseases. One is through strengthening both the innate and adaptive immune systems, the other is through reducing inflammatory responses to infection. The “innate immune system”responds to threats in a non-specific manner. The “adaptive immune system” can recognize and deal with specific threats […]

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  • Vitamin D During Pregnancy and lactation

    Vitamin D During Pregnancy and lactation

    Adequate vitamin D levels are very important during pregnancy and lactation. In addition to the classical role of vitamin D in calcium and phosphate absorption and metabolism, vitamin D during pregnancy protects against infection, helps ensure proper fetal development, and reduces the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. How vitamin D protects against infection is discussed […]

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  • Cancer and Vitamin D

    Cancer and Vitamin D

    There is a large body of evidence that vitamin D reduces the risk of many types of cancerand improves survival after cancer diagnosis. Solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) light is the primary source of vitamin D for most people. The idea that UVB and vitamin D could reduce the risk of cancer was proposed in 1980 by […]

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