Vitamin D for Breast Cancer Patients - Daily or Weekly?
Posted Mar 14 2011 11:14am
Many research studies have shown a potential link between breast cancer and insufficient vitamin D levels . Some of these studies have suggested that individuals deficient in vitamin D are at greater risk for developing breast cancer. Other studies have suggested that deficient breast cancer patients are at a greater risk for breast cancer recurrence and worse outcomes. These studies clearly show the importance of getting adequate amounts of vitamin D, both for individuals without breast cancer and for breast cancer patients. However, there is uncertainty regarding the best way to increase blood levels of this vitamin in deficient breast cancer patients.
A newly published breast cancer study examined the vitamin D status of breast cancer patients and tested the best way to bring blood levels back to a sufficient level. For this breast cancer research study, blood samples were collected from 224 women with stage 0 - III breast cancer to first determine their vitamin D status. Breast cancer patients found to have deficient (<20 ng/ml) or insufficient (20-31 ng/ml) vitamin D levels were then given vitamin D either daily (1,000 IU per day) or weekly (at least 50,000 IU per week) for 8 - 16 weeks. The breast cancer researchers reported
66.5% of the breast cancer patients were found to have deficient or insufficient blood levels of vitamin D
Deficiency/insufficiency was seen more often in non-Caucasian patients, patients with later-stage disease, and patients who had received radiation therapy previously
Daily low-dose supplementation with vitamin D did NOT significantly raise blood levels of vitamin D
Blood levels of vitamin D were successfully increased only with weekly high doses of vitamin D supplementation
Considering the mounting evidence linking low vitamin D levels in breast cancer patients with increased risk for recurrence and worse outcomes, these are important results. If increasing vitamin D levels in breast cancer patients can improve their outcomes, then knowing how much vitamin D needs to be supplemented and the best way to supplement it is critical to enhancing post-diagnosis quality of life. Vitamin D is important for all of us and deficiencies in vitamin D have been tentatively linked to several chronic health conditions, so be sure to get adequate amounts of vitamin D every day.