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Researchers examine HOW vitamin D reduces breast cancer risk


There appears to be a connection between vitamin D and the risk of breast cancer. A recent study discovered that having higher levels of the vitamin can help prevent the onset of the disease in women.

A joint effort led by researchers from the University of California San Diego (UCSD), the study investigated the relationship between vitamin D concentrations in the blood and the risk of breast cancer.

The study analyzed the results of previous clinical trials held between 2002 to 2017. Two of the trials involved women 55 years old and above who were cancer-free when they were recruited. They took calcium and vitamin D supplements and were followed for an average period of four years.

Researchers compared the concentrations of vitamin D in the blood of the participants. They found that women with higher levels of the vitamin had a considerably lower risk of breast cancer.

“Participants with blood levels of 25 (OH)D [25-hydroxyvitamin D] that were above 60 ng/ml had one-fifth the risk… compared to those with less than 20 ng/ml,” reported Cedric Garland, coauthor of the study. (Related: Vitamins D, E and zinc significantly boost immune strength among older people.)

What you need to know about vitamin D

Vitamin D is necessary for overall health. It helps muscles move, allows nerves to transmit signals, and supports the normal functions of the immune system. It also strengthens bones and supports the growth of cells.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D is set at 600 International Units (IU) for anyone between the age of one and 70 years old. The RDA for infants less than 12 months of age is 400 IU, while adults past the age of 70 years need 800 IU.

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To increase vitamin D levels, people need to eat certain foods or increase their exposure to sunlight. Oysters and oily fish like salmon and sardines contain a lot of vitamin D. Health supplements can also help.

The body produces the inactive form of vitamin D, which is mostly stored in the skin. Upon contact with UV light from the sun, the stored vitamin D is converted into its active form.

Concerns about the possibility of developing skin cancer due to overexposure to the sun are said to be responsible for the deficient levels of vitamin D found in different populations. Several studies have reported a connection between vitamin D deficiency and the increasing number of breast cancer cases.

“Breast cancer is on the rise so is one reason [a lack of] vitamin D?” asked Dr. Marissa Weiss, chief medical officer and founder of Breastcancer.org. “It’s possible.”

Get your vitamin D levels checked for a possible deficiency

Given the importance of vitamin D, especially in the prevention of breast cancer, people should be wary of vitamin D deficiency. A blood test designed to measure vitamin D concentrations is currently the only way to determine if a person has sufficient amounts of the vitamin.

Experts urge women to get their vitamin D levels evaluated as soon as possible. It is also important for women to figure out if they need to increase their intake of the vitamin through food.

The study established a strong connection between vitamin D and breast cancer. Further investigations could help identify whether age or other factors also affect the risk of developing breast cancer in relation to vitamin D deficiency.

Sources include:

HealthLine.com

Journals.PLOS.org



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