Breast Cancer Survivability Improved by Vitamin D?

breast cancer

According to a new study conducted by the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), elevated vitamin D levels can greatly improve a woman’s survival from breast cancer.  The study’s findings, published recently in the journal Anticancer Research, indicate that while vitamin D is beneficial in alleviating the potential for bone fractures and depression, the vitamin can also go a long way in helping to improve a woman’s breast cancer survivability.

Vitamin D, which humans absorb mostly from the sun, has also been found in such food items as eggs, oily fish and fortified fat spreads, can help cut a person’s risk of heart disease.  It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is in notoriously short supply in humans – humans have a tendency not to absorb enough vitamin D, which is why so many opt for taking vitamin D supplements.  The influence of the vitamin on the risk of breast cancer was what researchers were particularly interested in.

Cedric F. Garland, Dr.PH, previously discovered that lower levels of vitamin D predisposed women to contract pre-menopausal cancer, and so Garland and his researchers decided that it was time to examine what influence vitamin D levels had, if any, over a woman’s risk of having breast cancer or cutting that risk.

Dr. Garland and his researchers went through a statistical analysis of five studies, which involved some 4,443 patients between 1966 and 2010.  Patients were followed for an average of 9 years, and researchers were specifically looking at the link between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and breast cancer.  He and the other researchers involved with the study were delighted to see that it appears that breast cancer survivability is improved by higher levels of vitamin D.

Patients were divided into teams based on the levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in their blood, and those in the “high” group – that is, levels that were higher than the average of 17 ng/mL in the bloodstream – saw their risk of dying from breast cancer cut by half.  Study co-author Dr. Heather Hofflich, DO, says the results of the study show promise for using vitamin D as an adjuvant to breast cancer therapy.

Garland says that tumor growth is stalled as a result of the presence of vitamin D receptors, and it is not until these stop working or that they have been decimated by the growth of cancer that breast cancer seems to become more aggressive.  However, vitamin D may not be all that it has been touted to be; recent studies have suggested that low levels of the vitamin may actually be a consequence of poor health and therefore may signal that there are other issues beyond breast cancer.  In addition, it has been suggested that while vitamin D is essential for the body to carry out certain functions, such as muscle movement, a study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology suggests that there may not be much benefit in vitamin D supplements, as low levels of vitamin D may actually be linked to other health issues.

According to this most recent study about vitamin D and breast cancer, there is a clear correlation between higher levels of vitamin D and lower levels of breast cancer mortality.  The link, according to Dr. Garland and his team of researchers, is fairly clear that breast cancer survivability is substantially improved as a result of higher levels of vitamin D, which can potentially be achieved through supplements.

By Christina St-Jean

Sources:

Medical News Today

Medical News Today

Science Recorder

The Globe and Mail

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