Vitamin D could help breast cancer survival
Breast cancer patients with naturally-occurring levels of vitamin D in their blood may have a lower fatality rate than patients with low levels of the vitamin, according to new research.
Scientists from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, analyzed data from five different studies that were conducted on the link between breast cancer and something called 25-hydroxyvitaminD—a byproduct that the body naturally produces from ingesting vitamin D. The combined studies involved approximately 4,500 breast cancer patients, whom researchers followed for nearly a decade. The studies’ participants were divided into three groups based on whether they had high, average or low levels of 25-hydroxyvitaminD in their blood.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found that the women with high levels of the vitamin D byproduct—defined as an average of 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml)—were 50 percent more likely to survive breast cancer than women with low levels, or an average of 17 ng/ml. The researchers said that the byproduct of vitamin D ingestion activates a protein that inhibits aggressive cell division, which may explain the study’s findings, which were published in the journal Anticancer Research.
It remains unclear whether the link between vitamin D and breast cancer is causal, as researchers said that advanced breast cancer may cause reduced vitamin D levels and not the other way around. Experts advised that breast cancer patients refrain from increasing vitamin D intake unless previously discussed with their health care provider, as they said that further research is required in order to confirm the new study’s findings.