Vitamin D

Low vitamin D levels linked to more aggressive breast cancers

Monday, May 09, 2011 by: Reuben Claxton
Tags: vitamin D, aggressive breast cancer, health news

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(NaturalNews) Vitamin D has been in the news recently as more studies talk about the metabolic effects of the vitamin and why we need it. A new study has added to evidence for the need for vitamin D. In a study just published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, scientists report that breast cancer patients with low levels of vitamin D have more aggressive tumors and a higher risk of recurrence.

This is not a surprising result for many physicians working with cancer patients, as the link between vitamin D and cancer in general is a fact. There is also a growing understanding that current intake recommendations are too low (

"Many oncologists are already following vitamin D levels in their breast cancer patients and recommending supplements for low levels," said Dr. Laurie Kirstein, a breast surgeon at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. "To link vitamin D levels to the aggressiveness of a particular type of breast cancer is an interesting finding." Dr. Kirstein added that this evidence should be followed up with a controlled trial.

The current study expands the general knowledge of vitamin D and cancer, putting the link into a context of a particular type of cancer and a particular cancer activity. The study, which examined 155 women at the University of Rochester, also found a link between low vitamin D levels and every major biological marker that is used to indicate prognosis of the disease.

"The magnitude of the findings was quite surprising," said Luke J. Peppone, the lead researcher and Research Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology. "Based on these results, doctors should strongly consider monitoring vitamin D levels among breast cancer patients and correcting them as needed."

While this study still needs follow up with larger, controlled studies, it also reinforces a belief in the importance of vitamin D, or as the original publication puts it, the information here adds, "support to previous research that found decreased breast cancer survival among vitamin D deficient individuals."

Current recommendations for vitamin D are 600 International Units (IU) per day for most people. Many researchers, however, regard this number as strangely low ( Dr. Robert Heaney, who researches vitamin D at Creighton University, says that adults should be getting at least 4,000 IUs per day, still well within a safe upper limit of 10,000, and which may help protect against cancer and other diseases.

Sources for this article:

Peppone L, Rickles A, Huston A, Sprod L, Hicks D, Mustian K, Skinner K. The association between prognostic demographic and tumor characteristics of breast carcinomas with serum 25-OH vitamin D levels. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011;20(4):717.

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