Vitamin D linked to improved breast cancer survival rates

Breast cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood may be more likely to survive the disease compared to women lacking the nutrient, a new study reports.

For a study published in Anticancer Research, researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine analyzed vitamin D levels in a group of 4,443 breast cancer patients involved in five separate studies. Each study followed the women involved for an average of nine years.

Overall, researchers found that women with high levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to survive their disease compared to women with low levels of the vitamin in their blood.

Researchers suspect vitamin D helps increase communication among cells, switching on a protein that can help prevent aggressive cell division.

“As long as vitamin D receptors are present, tumor growth is prevented and kept from expanding its blood supply,” study author Cedric F. Garland, a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at UC San Diego, said in a press release. “Vitamin D receptors are not lost until a tumor is very advanced. This is the reason for better survival in patients whose vitamin D blood levels are high.”

Though Garland said more clinical trials need to be done, he recommends that doctors consider adding the vitamin into patients’ treatment regimens immediately.

“There is no compelling reason to wait for further studies to incorporate vitamin D supplements into standard care regimens since a safe dose of vitamin D needed to achieve high serum levels above 30 nanograms per milliliter has already been established,” said Garland.

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