Women with low levels of vitamin D may face a higher risk of developing breast cancer, according to new research led by the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine.
The study, published online in the journal Cancer Causes and Control, involved 1,200 healthy women and found that those with low blood levels of vitamin D had three times the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer as women with higher levels of the “sunshine vitamin.”
"While the mechanisms by which vitamin D could prevent breast cancer are not fully understood, this study suggests that the association with low vitamin D in the blood is strongest late in the development of the cancer, "said lead researcher Cedric Garland, a family and preventive medicine specialist.
Garland said the findings suggest boosting vitamin D levels may help prevent breast cancer by blocking the development of blood vessels tumors require to grow and spread.
"Based on these data, further investigation of the role of vitamin D in reducing incidence of premenopausal breast cancer, particularly during the late phases of its development, is warranted," he said.
For the study, Garland and his team analyzed blood samples drawn from 600 women during the 90-day period just prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer, and from 600 others who remained healthy.
The results showed women with higher vitamin D levels — those achieved through the equivalent of consuming about 4000 IUs per day of vitamin D from food or a supplement — had a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with lower levels.
"Reliance should not be placed on different forms of vitamin D, such as vitamin D2, and megadoses should be avoided except those ordered by a doctor for short-term use," Garland added.
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