There’s been an ongoing debate over the past number of years as to whether or not vitamin D is actually helpful in preventing cancer, and to what extent. Now new research supports that postmenopausal women with higher levels of vitamin D (≥60 ng/ml) have a much lower risk of breast cancer than women with low blood serum levels (<20 ng/ml)of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is automatically produced when the cholesterol in your skin absorbs the ultraviolet B rays from the sun. People who don’t get enough sun exposure often need to supplement with vitamin D in order to have sufficient serum (blood) vitamin D levels.
For several years, the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has been out to discover if those with high levels of vitamin D in their blood have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. The study was conducted with help from specialists from Creighton University in Omaha, NE, the Medical University of South Carolina in Columbia, and the nonprofit organization GrassrootsHealth in Encinitas, CA.
The study focused on the pooled analysis of two randomized clinical trials and a prospective cohort.
Researchers looked at postmenopausal women over the age of 55 (average age of 63) who were all cancer-free at beginning of the trial. Researchers followed the health of these women for four years and monitored any potential signs of breast cancer.
The two trials contained 3,325 participants between them, and all drew research from a prospective cohort study with an additional 1,713 participants. There were 77 new cases of breast cancer within all the study participants.
Researchers discovered that there was an 82% lower incidence rate of breast cancer in women with 25(OH)D concentrations ≥60 versus those with levels under 20 ng/ml.
“Increasing vitamin D blood levels substantially above 20 ng/ml. appears to be important for the prevention of breast cancer,” stated first study author Sharon McDonell.
This particular study focused on postmenopausal women and principal investigator Cedric F. Garland noted that “Further research is needed on whether high levels might prevent premenopausal breast cancer.” Garland went on to say, “Nonetheless, this paper reports the strongest association yet between serum vitamin D and reduction in risk of breast cancer.”
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to a number of diseases including diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and autism.
Scientists continue to disagree on the recommended daily intake of vitamin D and many believe the standards set by the government and the National Academy of Medicine are too low. Your best bet is to have your vitamin D blood serum tested so you know your current level and then work to increase it, if needed, under the guidance of your healthcare practitioner.