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Breast cancer

Breast cancer survival rate higher in women with high vitamin D levels

Thursday, March 27, 2014 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: breast cancer, vitamin D, survival rate

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(NaturalNews) Researchers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have made a fascinating new discovery with regard to vitamin D and the role that it plays in breast cancer survival. High levels of this prohormone, it turns out, more than double a woman's chances of surviving breast cancer, while low levels significantly increase her risk of death.

Cedric F. Garland, DrPH, and his colleagues at UCSD's Department of Family and Preventive Medicine had previously discovered that low vitamin D levels increase a woman's risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer. This discovery prompted them to conduct follow-up research into the role that vitamin D might play in regulating the growth and spread of cancer cells in women already diagnosed with breast cancer.

The team looked at five different studies on 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), the activated form of vitamin D identified in blood tests, to make this assessment. Their statistical analysis included data on 4,443 breast cancer patients who had their blood levels tested at the time of diagnosis, as well as at follow-up intervals that occurred periodically for about nine years thereafter.

Women with blood serum levels of 25(OH)D averaging 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) or more were considered to have high vitamin D levels, while those averaging 17 ng/ml or less were considered to have low levels. The average breast cancer patient in the U.S. today has a blood serum level of 25(OH)D averaging 17 ng/ml.

After calculating these levels at and beyond the initial diagnosis, the UCSD team determined that women with high vitamin D levels are twice as likely to survive their condition as women in the low group. The primary reason for this, based on their observations, is that vitamin D activates special receptors inside the body that control the reproduction and proliferation of tumor cells.

"Vitamin D metabolites increase communication between cells by switching on a protein that blocks aggressive cell division," stated Garland about the findings. "As long as vitamin D receptors are present tumor growth is prevented and kept from expanding its blood supply. Vitamin D receptors are not lost until a tumor is very advanced. This is the reason for better survival in patients whose vitamin D blood levels are high."

Supplementing with vitamin D could help you avoid developing cancer in the first place

Though randomized, controlled clinical trials still need to be conducted to reinforce these findings, Garland and his colleagues are convinced that doctors should be incorporating more supplemental vitamin D into their patients' diets now for the betterment of their health. Vitamin D, after all, is beneficial all the way around, and millions of Americans, both well and sick, are lacking or deficient in it.

"There is no compelling reason to wait for further studies to incorporate vitamin D supplements into standard care regimens since a safe dose of vitamin D needed to achieve high serum levels above 30 nanograms per milliliter has already been established," added Garland.

Supplementing with vitamin D while healthy is also a good idea, as previous research has solidified evidence that high vitamin D levels decrease the overall risk of breast cancer by at least 50 percent. Consuming just 4,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily -- just 15 minutes of sunlight exposure during the summer naturally produces between 10,000 and 25,000 IU of vitamin D inside the body, according to the Vitamin D Council -- is enough to bring a woman's vitamin D levels to 50 ng/ml, which cuts her breast cancer risk in half.

To learn more about the benefits of vitamin D, be sure to check out the Vitamin D Council:

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