April 05, 2006
Vitamin D Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

Papers presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research provide additional evidence that higher vitamin D reduces breast cancer risk.

Now, new studies by researchers at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto suggest the "sunshine" vitamin may play a significant role in reducing breast cancer risk. The results, based on population data, found the reduction was most apparent among subjects exposed to the highest levels of vitamin D when they were young.

By interviewing about 576 patients who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and 1,135 people who had no cancer, the scientists discovered that significant reductions in breast cancer were found in those who had either worked in an outdoor job, had taken part in outdoor activities when young, or consumed cod liver oil or milk.

Working an outdoor job between ages 10 to19 resulted in an estimated 40 percent reduced risk of breast cancer, while frequent outdoor activities between ages 10 to 29 lowered breast cancer risk by an estimated 35 percent.

"These outdoor activities included those that didn't involve physical activity," said Julie Knight, who headed the Mount Sinai research team. "And so we believe that this is evidence of a reduction of breast cancer risk, associated with earlier exposure to the sun."

For dietary influences on cancer development, taking cod liver oil between ages 10 to 19 reduced breast cancer risk by about 25 percent, and consuming at least nine glasses of milk every week between the ages of 10 to 29 reduced the risk by 35 percent. The dietary and lifestyle reductions were significant, even when adjusted for other risk factors for breast cancer such as age, ethnicity, close relatives with breast cancer, age at menarche and age at a woman's first birth.

Women with higher concentrations of vitamin D in the blood are at less risk of breast cancer.

Increasing doses of dietary Vitamin D may help prevent breast cancer, with the optimal level of intake of Vitamin D more that three times the current average for Americans, according to a study conducted at the University of California, San Diego.

Previous studies have suggested a link between Vitamin D deficiency and higher incidence of breast cancer. Cedric Garland, Dr. P.H., and Edward Gorham, Ph.D., of UCSD, and their colleagues examined existing cancer studies to determine if higher Vitamin D levels in the blood could reduce the risk of cancer.

"There is a strong inverse dose-response relationship between the serum concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and the risk of breast cancer," Garland said. "It's a close fit to a linear model," meaning that higher amounts of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the serum resulted in decreased risk of breast cancer. The evidence further pointed to a level of Vitamin D measured in blood that correlated with a 50 percent reduction in the incidence of breast cancer.

Garland, Gorham and their colleagues studied a serum Vitamin D metabolite known as 25 hydroxyvitamin D and its association with breast cancer occurrence in a pooled study that included 1,760 women. The studies that provided the data for the pooled analysis were conducted by Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson and colleagues at Harvard, and L.C. Lowe and associates at Saint George's Hospital Medical School in London.

According to the pooled analysis, Vitamin D in blood serum equal to 52 nanograms per milliliter was associated with a 50 percent reduced risk of breast cancer. To move closer to a serum concentration of 52 nanograms/milliliter, a typical individual would have to consume no less than 1,000 International Units (IU) of Vitamin D every day, through supplements or vitamin D-fortified foods. Currently, a typical American consumes only 320 International Units of Vitamin D a day. The upper limit for vitamin D intake established by the National Academy of Sciences is 2,400 IU/day, but no toxic effects of vitamin D intake have been reported for intakes below 3,800 IU per day.

I already take vitamin D pills that put me up in the safer range.

The linked page also reports evidence that flavonoids reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Click thru and read the whole thing.

Also see my posts Vitamin D Could Decrease Overall Cancer Risk 30% and Vitamin D Crucial For Long Term Lung Health.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2006 April 05 09:51 PM  Aging Diet Cancer Studies


Comments
Doug said at April 6, 2006 8:32 PM:

Given everything we've learned a healthy level of vitamin D3 does for us, it seems like a matter of simple justice to legalize naked Frisbee-tossing. It's a good time to be alive, I tell you.

Crazy cat said at April 7, 2006 1:26 PM:

So somehow we have to get enough sunlight to keep away from cancer, but stay away from the sunlight enough not to get sun cancer?

Doug said at April 9, 2006 8:35 AM:

Crazy cat,

Questions like yours are extensively explored at The Vitamin D Council's website. I recommend subscribing to the Council's newsletter, as well.

Doug

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