An intriguing finding in breast cancer research: Vitamin D may increase the likelihood of surviving breast cancer, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of California's San Diego School of Medicine found that women with higher levels of the nutrient in their blood are twice as likely to survive breast cancer, compared with those who have low levels of the vitamin.
Previously, research has revealed low vitamin D levels to be linked to premenopausal breast cancer. This prompted lead researcher Cedric Garland to examine the relationship between the nutrient and survival rates. The study, published in the journal Anticancer Research, discovered vitamin D helps fight the disease by preventing tumor growth and limiting blood supply to cancerous cells. The nutrient switches on a protein that helps block aggressive cell division, Garland says.
Researchers analyzed five studies that followed 4,443 breast cancer patients for an average of nine years. Women with high levels of vitamin D had about 30 nanograms per milliliter of the vitamin in their blood, while those with lower amounts averaged 17 ng/ml. The results invite new treatment regimens, Garland says, since guidelines for a safe dosage necessary for those high levels are already in effect.
More clinical trials still need to be done, but in the meantime, we can all benefit from a daily dose of vitamin D through sunlight and supplements — the nutrient is also proven to help heart disease, osteoporosis, and other cancers.