For the past seven years, vitamin D has been known to have numerous health benefits, but today a new study was published, adding help for breast cancer patients to its illustrious list. It turns out that having a sufficient level of Vitamin D in one’s bloodstream can aid patients’ survival. This is according to a recent series of studies in Anticancer Research, which followed nearly 4,500 breast cancer patients over approximately nine years. The result was that those women whose blood levels contained higher amounts of vitamin D had twice the probability of survival in comparison to those with lower levels.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine conducted the study. According to the lead author, Professor Cedric Garland in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, they believe that women gain from vitamin D’s increased communication among cells. The vitamin switches on a protein that helps to prevent dangerous splitting of cells.
Vitamin D receptors benefit breast cancer patients by preventing aggressive growth of tumors and correlated expansion of their blood supply. With the advancement of a tumor, vitamin D receptors disappear. That is why the presence of the vitamin increases survival for patients with high levels in their blood. Although clinical trials continue to be conducted, the recommendation is that doctors create treatment plans for their breast cancer patients that include vitamin D. The NIH recommended dosage of 600 IU of vitamin D (and 800 IU for those over 70) is safe and there is no detriment to including it. Therefore, there is no reason to wait to incorporate it into one’s diet.
The origin of vitamin D was nearly 100 years ago, when it was discovered in 1920, originally as a long-sought means of curing rickets, a bone disease that afflicted children. The following decade, foods were fortified with vitamin D and rickets became an uncommon disease in the U.S. As time has passed, more important uses for vitamin D have emerged. Neuromuscular problems, cardiovascular disease, bone fractures, diabetes, and prostate cancer are among the ailments aided by this vitamin.
Because they are not produced by the body’s tissues, all vitamins must be obtained from dietary sources. By this definition, vitamin D is technically not a vitamin because it is produced in the human body, and even though it is found in some dietary sources, it has to undergo a transformation within the body before it can be beneficial. Natural vitamin D is produced in the skin from a universally present form of cholesterol. With the presence of sunlight, the ultraviolet B (UVB) light converts this precursor in the liver and the kidneys into vitamin D3.
The vitamin is best known for its benefits in keeping bones healthy by increasing the absorption of calcium in the intestine. Without vitamin D, only 10 to 15 percent of calcium consumed is absorbed; with D, calcium absorption increases to 30 to 40 percent. However, with today’s published study, the benefits of vitamin D are being expanded to breast cancer patients, which offers promising new hope with a common, relatively inexpensive, and easily absorbed substance.
By Fern Remedi-Brown