Does Lack of Vitamin D Worsen Breast Cancer?

I read this on a website, does anyone have an opinion on this ? Could it be correct? If so, should we be taking Vitamin D3 or is it dangerous? Could this be another scare tactic?

A study from the University of Toronto has shown that breast cancer is more likely to spread in women whose blood levels of vitamin D were low when they were diagnosed. Although we’ve known for a while that breast cancer occurs more frequently in areas of the world that get the least sun, this is the first study to look at the correlation between vitamin D levels and the course of breast cancer.

Of the 512 women who participated in the study, only 24 percent had adequate vitamin D levels when they were diagnosed (between 1989 and 1995). Those who were deficient were nearly twice as likely to have the disease recur or spread over the 10 years after diagnosis and were 73 percent more likely to die from breast cancer within 10 years than women whose vitamin D levels were higher.

The study was reported on May 15, 2008 at a press briefing in advance of the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world’s leading organization of cancer specialists.

More study of the breast cancer-vitamin D connection will be needed to confirm the results seen by the Toronto researchers and to determine if there is an optimal level of vitamin D for women with the disease. (The Toronto study also showed that women with the highest levels had worse survival rates than those with “sufficient” levels, although these results were not conclusive.) Exactly how vitamin D influences cancer isn’t known, but lab and animal research have shown that it can curb both abnormal cell growth and the formation of blood vessels that nourish tumors.

The Toronto findings are intriguing but they don’t tell us whether increasing vitamin D intake after being diagnosed with breast cancer will make any difference to the outcome of treatment.

Our bodies make vitamin D in response to exposure to the ultraviolet B rays of the sun, but if you live in an area where the sun isn’t strong year-round (anywhere north of Atlanta), or if you rarely venture outside or always use sunscreen, you could be deficient unless you take supplements. It isn’t easy to get enough D from your diet. The best sources are fortified milk and cereals, eggs, salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. (Unfortunately, most fortified foods provide vitamin D2, a form which is less well utilized by the body than D3.) To make sure you get adequate amounts of vitamin D, I recommend taking a daily supplement of 1,000 mg of D3. Always take it with a fat-containing meal to ensure absorption.

Interestiong - but not entirely sure if there is any conclusive information by which we could make a decision. On the one hand its saying low levels may be an issue … then later on it appears to say that high levels may also be an issue. Seems like you would need to be fairly clever to get the right balance cos stepping either side of the line seems and you’re in trouble.

I also think the statement about the not being out in the sun or using a sun screen is antoehr issue … does this mean we have a choice of either skin cancer or breast cancer?

My brother lives in Canada and he sent me a newspaper article all about Vitamin D and breast cancer a while ago. I took it with me when I went for my Onc appointment following completion of chemo and rads and was told that there needed to be a lot more research done as taking high levels of vitamin D can be dangerous!

I’ll have a look through my emails and see if I’ve still got it and if so I’ll send it to you (but if you don’t hear anything by Sunday give me a shout coz my chemo addled brain will have forgotten about it

Fran