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Do Vitamin D Levels Predict Breast Cancer Outcomes?

Posted Mar 29 2010 7:57am
Currently, vitamin D is one of the most talked about vitamins around.  It has been getting a lot of press regarding the potential health benefits associated with adequate levels of vitamin D and the risks related to vitamin D deficiencies.  In fact, the Institute of Medicine is scheduled to release potentially new recommendations for vitamin D intake later this summer. 

A number of studies have reported that insufficient vitamin D levels are an important risk factor for breast cancer; however, it remains a bit unclear as to whether vitamin D levels in breast cancer patients has an impact on recurrence.  A new research study presented at the 7th European Breast Cancer Conference examined this potential relationship.  For this study, blood levels of vitamin D were measured in 310 Korean women with breast cancer.  The blood levels of vitamin D were analyzed in relation to clinical outcomes and tissue characteristics.  This study reported that
  • Vitamin D levels were deficient (< 20 ng/ml) in ~24% of the breast cancer patients, insufficient (20 - 29 ng/ml) in ~31% of the patients, and sufficient (30 - 150 ng/ml) in only 24% of the breast cancer patients.
  • Women with vitamin D levels that were deficient had an almost 3-fold increased risk of breast cancer recurrence compared to patients with sufficient vitamin D levels.
  • Vitamin D deficiency was associated with poorer outcomes in breast cancer patients with hormone receptor - positive tumors (almost a 6-fold greater risk), but no relationship was observed for hormone receptor - negative tumors.
This study confirms earlier studies in that about 75% of breast cancer patients did NOT have sufficient levels of vitamin D.  This is an amazingly high percentage of women to have inadequate levels of vitamin D.  While most earlier studies have looked at and shown that adequate vitamin D intake can reduce the risk of getting breast cancer, this new study tells us that inadequate vitamin D intake can also increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence in breast cancer patients and that this is most likely to happen in patients with hormone receptor - positive breast cancer.  This is important new research that emphasizes the need for adequate vitamin D levels.  If you are interested in learning more about vitamin D, the National Institute of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements has an excellent fact sheet .

To learn more about vitamin D and its importance in breast cancer, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer at www.fightBCnow.com .
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