Healthy Levels of Vitamin D May Boost Breast Cancer Outcomes

By Ernie Mundell and Robert Preidt
Health Day Journalists

THURSDAY, June 10, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Breast cancer patients who have adequate levels of vitamin D – the “sunshine vitamin” – at the time of their diagnosis have better long-term outcomes, news shows study.

Combined with the results of previous research, the new findings suggest “continued benefit for patients who maintain sufficient levels [of vitamin D] through and beyond breast cancer treatment, ”said study lead author Song Yao. He is Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, NY

The study also found that black women had the lowest vitamin D levels, which may help explain their generally lower results after a breast cancer diagnosis, Yao’s group said.

The results were presented at the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology Virtual Annual Meeting.

An oncologist unrelated to the research said the findings could offer women a new, simple way to fight breast cancer.


Vitamin D “can be found in certain foods and is made when sunlight hits human skin,” explained Dr Alice Police, a breast cancer researcher at the Katz Institute for Women’s Health at Northwell Health in Westchester, NY

“This can be an opportunity for an important intervention on breast cancer outcomes for all women, but particularly in the black population,” she said.

The study involved nearly 4,000 patients who had their vitamin D levels checked and were followed for a median of almost 10 years.

The patients were divided into three levels: vitamin D deficiency (less than 20 nanograms per milliliter in blood tests); insufficient (20 to 29 ng / ml); or sufficient (30 ng / ml or more).

The study was not designed to prove cause and effect. However, he found that – compared to nutrient-deficient women – women with sufficient levels of vitamin D had a 27% risk of dying from any cause within 10 years of follow-up and a 22% risk of dying from any cause. death from breast cancer. More precisely.

The team also found that the association between vitamin D levels and breast cancer outcomes was similar regardless of the estrogen receptor (ER) status of the tumor. The association appeared to be somewhat stronger in low weight patients and those diagnosed with more advanced breast cancer.


“Our results from this large observational cohort of breast cancer survivors with long follow-up provide the strongest evidence to date to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D in breast cancer patients, in particular in black women and patients with more advanced disease, ”Yao said in a press release from Roswell Park.

Dr Paul Baron is chief of breast surgery and director of the breast cancer program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He was not involved in the new research, but called it “an important study because it shows the importance of sufficient levels of vitamin D to improve the long-term survival of patients with breast cancer. breast “.

For their part, police said the results underscore the importance for women of an adequate amount of vitamin D.

The difference in outcome between black and white breast cancer patients “narrowed with higher vitamin D levels at diagnosis,” she noted. “This could be an important step in efforts to level the playing field for this disease: let in the sun! “


Since these results were presented at a medical meeting, they should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more information on breast cancer.

SOURCES: Alice Police, MD, breast cancer researcher, Katz Institute for Women’s Health at Northwell Health, Westchester, NY; Paul L. Baron, MD, chief of breast surgery, director of breast cancer program, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, press release, June 4, 2021

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