Vitamin D increases breast cancer patient survival

March 6, 2014, University of California - San Diego

Breast cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood are twice as likely to survive the disease as women with low levels of this nutrient, report University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researchers in the March issue of Anticancer Research.

In previous studies, Cedric F. Garland, DrPH, professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, showed that low vitamin D levels were linked to a high risk of premenopausal breast cancer. That finding, he said, prompted him to question the relationship between 25-hydroxyvitamin D—a metabolite produced by the body from the ingestion of vitamin D—and breast cancer survival rates.

Garland and colleagues performed a statistical analysis of five studies of 25-hydroxyvitamin D obtained at the time of patient diagnosis and their follow-up for an average of nine years. Combined, the studies included 4,443 .

"Vitamin D metabolites increase communication between cells by switching on a protein that blocks aggressive cell division," said Garland. "As long as vitamin D receptors are present tumor growth is prevented and kept from expanding its blood supply. 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."

Women in the high serum group had an average level of 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in their blood. The low group averaged 17 ng/ml. The average level in patients with breast cancer in the United States is 17 ng/ml.

"The study has implications for including vitamin D as an adjuvant to conventional breast cancer therapy," said co-author Heather Hofflich, DO, UC San Diego associate professor in the Department of Medicine.

Garland recommended randomized controlled clinical trials to confirm the findings but suggested physicians consider adding vitamin D into a breast cancer patient's standard care now and then closely monitor the patient.

"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.

A 2011 meta-analysis by Garland and colleagues estimated that a serum level of 50 ng/ml is associated with 50 percent lower risk of . While there are some variations in absorption, those who consume 4,000 International Units (IU) per day of vitamin D from food or a supplement normally would reach a serum level of 50 ng/ml. Garland urged patients to ask their health care provider to measure their levels before substantially increasing vitamin D intake.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the current recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU for adults and 800 IU for people over 70 years old.

Explore further: Low vitamin D levels linked to high risk of premenopausal breast cancer

Related Stories

Low vitamin D levels linked to high risk of premenopausal breast cancer

January 24, 2013
A prospective study led by researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has found that low serum vitamin D levels in the months preceding diagnosis may predict a high risk of premenopausal breast ...

Vitamin D does not contribute to kidney stones, study asserts

October 17, 2013
Increased vitamin D levels may prevent a wide range of diseases, according to recent studies. However, some previous studies led to a concern that vitamin D supplementation could increase an individual's risk of developing ...

Calcium and vitamin D improve cholesterol in postmenopausal women

March 5, 2014
Calcium and vitamin D supplements after menopause can improve women's cholesterol profiles. And much of that effect is tied to raising vitamin D levels, finds a new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) just published ...

Vitamin D deficiency linked to Type 1 diabetes

November 15, 2012
A study led by researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has found a correlation between vitamin D3 serum levels and subsequent incidence of Type 1 diabetes. The six-year study of blood levels ...

Vitamin D deficiency common in cancer patients

October 3, 2011
More than three-quarters of cancer patients have insufficient levels of vitamin D (25-hydroxy-vitamin D) and the lowest levels are associated with more advanced cancer, according to a study presented on October 2, 2011, at ...

Recommended for you

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

Dulling cancer therapy's double-edged sword

January 17, 2018
Researchers have discovered that killing cancer cells can actually have the unintended effect of fueling the proliferation of residual, living cancer cells, ultimately leading to aggressive tumor progression.

Presurgical targeted therapy delays relapse of high-risk stage 3 melanoma

January 17, 2018
A pair of targeted therapies given before and after surgery for melanoma produced at least a six-fold increase in time to progression compared to standard-of-care surgery for patients with stage 3 disease, researchers at ...

T-cells engineered to outsmart tumors induce clinical responses in relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma

January 16, 2018
WASHINGTON-(Jan. 16, 2018)-Tumors have come up with ingenious strategies that enable them to evade detection and destruction by the immune system. So, a research team that includes Children's National Health System clinician-researchers ...

Researchers identify new treatment target for melanoma

January 16, 2018
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a new therapeutic target for the treatment of melanoma. For decades, research has associated female sex and a history of previous ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.