Low vitamin D levels increase breast cancer risks

Monday, February 25, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: vitamin D, breast cancer, risks

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(NaturalNews) More evidence from a new study shows that lower vitamin D levels could be more hazardous to women because it leads to a higher risk of breast cancer.

The latest research, conducted by scientists at the Westmead Breast Cancer Institute, Westmead Hospital, in New South Wales, Australia, followed 214 women who had been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. According to a summary of the findings, women with lower-than-normal vitamin D "levels were found be inversely associated with the odds ratio of breast cancer."

The lower level "was associated with a significantly higher risk of breast cancer," said the summary. "These results support previous research which has shown that lower [vitamin D] concentrations are associated with increased risk of breast cancer."

The findings correspond with earlier studies conducted by researchers around the world, which were confirmed recently by U.S. scientists conducting a review of breast cancer data.

'High vitamin D levels reduce the risk of breast cancer and other diseases'

"Epidemiological and laboratory studies have long established that high vitamin D levels can reduce the risk of breast cancer," says a report by The Press Association. That said, the report added, a previous study of more than 67,000 French women, which was led by Pierre Engel, an epidemiology manager at Quintiles-Outcome, a top research firm, "showed the importance of a minimum vitamin D level in preventing breast cancer."

Vitamin D is available in many forms, via foods like fruits and vegetables, and through sunlight, the latter of which can prove to be a problem for women who just happen to live in northern climes where sunlight is a premium, researchers said, noting that western women in particular lead busy lifestyles and may spend far too little time in the sun.

"High vitamin D levels reduce the risk of breast cancer and also offer protection against many other diseases," Ad Brand of the Sunlight Research Forum (SRF) said.

"In the Northern Hemisphere, the level of sunlight from September to May is often insufficient for the body to produce enough essential vitamin D," said Brand. ""It might therefore be sensible to undergo moderate artificial UV exposure on a regular basis."

Two studies completed in 2010 by researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center found the same link between lower levels of vitamin D and increased breast cancer risk.

"The research adds to mounting evidence that some connection exists between vitamin D and cancer, although it is not yet known how vitamin D modifies or contributes to cancer risk," said a press release from the school.

"Our data certainly suggests that it is important to test patients for serum vitamin D levels, and if necessary, treat the deficiency along with the disease," said Alissa Huston, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine at URMC, who presented the findings. "In some cases, weekly high doses of vitamin D are needed to bring the patient up to sufficient levels."

Blacks may be at higher risk

"Currently, we recommend a minimum 1000 IU of vitamin D3 daily (in addition to calcium) to our patients," Huston said, "but in most instances this dose needs to be individualized to the patient's specific level."

A second study, led by Kevin Fiscella, M.D., M.P.H., found that "vitamin D deficiency among African Americans may explain a persistent mystery in colorectal cancer: why black people die of this disease far more often than whites," said the press release.

Researchers have found that simply being African-American doubled the risk of dying from colorectal cancer.

Earlier, scientists using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that a vitamin D deficiency may also contribute to a higher number of heart and stroke-related deaths among blacks.


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