According to a study detailed in Anticancer Research Journal, high levels of vitamin D may increase the survival rates of patients with breast cancer. The University of California at San Diego School of Medicine discovered that the survival rates for those with above average levels of vitamin D are almost twice that of women with low levels of the vitamin. Researchers categorized patients in the high level group as those who had an average of 30 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in their blood. The low-level group had an average of 17 ng/ml. An average level in breast cancer patients in the United States is also 17 ng/ml. According to findings, vitamin D may combat breast cancer and allow a higher survival rate for those so inflicted.
The analysis was based on a group of five studies that included almost 4,500 breast cancer patients. The studies analyzed the initial vitamin D levels at time of diagnosis and followed-up for an average of nine years. 25-hydroxyvitamin D is a metabolite which comes from ingesting vitamin D. The metabolites switch on a protein which blocks aggressive cell division which, in turn, keeps tumor growth from increasing. The receptors are not lost unless tumor growth is very advanced.
According to Dr. Cedric Garland, professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, there is no reason to wait before incorporating vitamin D supplements into the care of breast cancer patients. The safe dosage amount of vitamin D that would result in serum levels above 30 ng/ml has already been established. A consumption of 4,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D daily from food and supplements normally would result in a serum level of 50 ng/ml. The daily allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU for adults up to 70 years of age. While physicians should closely monitor the patients after the addition of the supplements, the extra vitamin D and resulting serum could combat breast cancer.
Garland was also involved in a previous study which showed a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and higher risks of premenopausal breast cancer. He indicates that the results from that study prompted him to question the connection between vitamin D and breast cancer survival rates. What he found through these studies was a 44% lower risk of death in those women with the high levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. He recommends more randomized clinical trials in order to confirm these findings.
Vitamin D can be absorbed through sunlight. Most of the food products in a western diet that contain the vitamin have it artificially added. There are not too many foods that contain vitamin D naturally. Salmon, at 447 IUs of vitamin D is considered one of the best sources as well as tuna, mackerel, and fish liver oils. One tablespoon of fish liver oil offers 1,360 IUs. It is also present in cheese, egg yolks, beef liver, and some varieties of mushroom.
Further studies will be necessary to confirm the findings of this study. However, after five years and 4,443 patients, the indication is that higher levels of vitamin D will combat breast cancer.
By Dee Mueller