Vitamin D May Affect Breast Cancer

Lower Levels of Vitamin D Linked to Advanced Breast Cancer

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on October 17, 2006
From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 17, 2006 -- Vitamin D may affect the progression of breast cancer, according to a small new study.

British researchers found that women with early-stage breastcancercancer had much higher levels of vitamin D in their blood than women with more advanced breast cancer.

Vitamin D levels have already been shown to be lower in women with breast cancer compared with healthy women, and researchers say these new results suggest that vitamin D may play a role in promoting the progression of the disease.

Vitamin D is produced within the body in response to sunlight exposure. It is also found in eggs, liver, and fortified dairy products.

Vitamin D-Breast Cancer Link

In the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology, researchers compared blood levels of vitamin D in 75 women with advanced breast cancer and 204 women with early-stage breast cancer.

They found that women with early-stage breast cancer had much higher levels of vitamin D compared with women with advanced breast cancer.

Researcher Carlo Palmieri of Cancer Research UK Laboratories and colleagues say vitamin D boosts the activity of certain key genes and curbs activity in others. For example, laboratory tests shave shown that vitamin D treatment can speed cell death while stopping cancer cells from multiplying.

The researchers say it is not known whether the lower levels of vitamin D among those with advanced breast cancer are a cause or result of the advanced cancer itself. But their findings support the hypothesis that low levels of vitamin D promote progression to advanced breast cancer.

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SOURCES: Palmieri, D. Journal of Clinical Pathology, Oct. 17, 2006, online first edition. News release, BMJ Specialist Journals.
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