According to recent research, people with high levels of vitamin D in their blood have a considerably lower risk of developing breast cancer.
Vitamin D is now hailed as a wonder nutrient, capable of lowering a person’s risk of different forms of cancer.
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The merits of vitamin D when it comes to cancer prevention have long been at the heart of medical deliberations.
Some studies have disclosed that general risk of getting cancer is lower in people with higher levels of vitamin D, others have suggested that vitamin D has no influence on a person’s exposure to the disease.
However, the case for making sure that you get enough vitamin D is very strong, as low blood levels of this nutrient have been linked to a high risk of bladder cancer and bowel cancer.
Earlier research has also established a connection between high vitamin D levels and better survival rates in people going through breast cancer treatment.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in have investigated whether and to what extent high levels of vitamin D in the blood were associated with a lower risk of developing breast cancer. This is done in a pooled analysis of a prospective cohort study and two randomized clinical trials.
Their analysis suggests that certain levels of vitamin D relate with a “markedly lower” risk of breast cancer.
These results are now published in the journal PLOS ONE.
High vitamin D levels may lower risk
Principal investigator Cedric F. Garland and his research team examined the data of two randomized clinical trials with a total of 3,325 participants between them, and those of a potential cohort study numbering 1,713 participants.
All of these participants were women aged 63, on average, who were cancer-free at reference point. The data used in the analysis were collected in 2002–2017, and the participants’ health was observed for an average period of 4 years.
The team looked for associations between the risk of developing breast cancer in women and volunteers’ serum (a part of the human blood, minus the red blood cells) concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), a prominent vitamin D biomarker.
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During the period in which the three analyzed studies were conducted, a total of 77 new cases of breast cancer were noted. “The age-adjusted incidence rate of breast cancer was 512 cases per 100,000 person-years in the pooled cohort,” the researchers specify.
The analysis revealed that people with higher blood concentrations of the vitamin D biomarker were exposed to a significantly lower risk of breast cancer.
Cedric F. Garland concluded:
“We found that participants with blood levels of 25(OH)D that were above 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) had one-fifth the risk of breast cancer compared to those with less than 20 ng/ml.”
Additionally, the researchers explained that the higher the levels of vitamin D in the system, the lower the breast cancer risk.
These results are particularly striking when considering that how much vitamin D we should have in our systems to be healthy is a matter that is still debatable.
Garland and his team assessed that the minimum healthy level of 25(OH)D in blood should be about 60 nanograms per milliliter, which is a lot more than the 20 nanograms per milliliter concentration recommended by the National Academy of Medicine.
The findings reported by the research team held true even after the analysis results were adjusted for potential influencing factors, such as the participants’ age, body mass index (BMI), smoking habits, and the consumption of calcium supplements.
“Increasing vitamin D blood levels substantially above 20 ng/ml,” explains first study author Sharon McDonnell “appears to be important for the prevention of breast cancer.”
These findings are exhilarating for Garland, who has been studying the association between serum levels of vitamin D and the risk of cancer for many years, and who has always upheld that this nutrient plays a vital role in keeping the disease at bay.
A possible inadequacy of the current study, which is reported by Garland, is that “this study was limited to postmenopausal breast cancer.”
He added that further research is required on whether high 25(OH)D levels might prevent premenopausal breast cancer.
“Nonetheless,” Garland concludes, “this paper reports the strongest association yet between serum vitamin D and reduction in risk of breast cancer.”
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