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What Does Vitamin D Have To Do with My Breast Cancer Risk?

An interesting and important article was published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Oncology about a study of vitamin D levels in breast cancer patients. This is an important topic because vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased breast cancer risk and decreased breast cancer survival.

At the onset of this trial, 74% of premenopausal women with breast cancer were vitamin D deficient (median,17 ng/mL). Vitamin D deficiency was slightly less common in white women (66%) compared with black (80%) and Hispanic (84%) women. After vitamin D supplementation for 1 year, less than 15% of white and Hispanic women, and no black women, achieved sufficient levels. Vitamin D levels were not altered by chemotherapy or bisphosphonate use.

The authors of the study concluded that vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in women with breast cancer and that the current recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D is too low.

For those of you who want all the details about Vitamin D, here is a one hour lecture by an expert in the field. Dr Michael Holick, MD, PhD is Director of the Vitamin D Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine.


High Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency Despite Supplementation in Premenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Undergoing Adjuvant Chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol. 2009 May 1;27(13):2151-2156, KD Crew, E Shane, S Cremers, DJ McMahon, D Irani, DL Hershman

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2 Comments → “What Does Vitamin D Have To Do with My Breast Cancer Risk?”

  1. Judy Giannettino says:

    I was amazed to find out the importance in Vitamin D related to breast cancer. If the vitamin D supplement did not sufficientlly improve the levels in most women, how would they be able to improve the levels?

    • Mark Balch says:

      Here’s info on dietary sources of vitamin D from the US National Health Institute (NIH). Below is a list of food in in order from highest source to lowest source of vitamin D. The serving size is listed and the Percent DV (DailyValue) is provided. For example, cod liver oil as listed below provides 340% of the Daily Value.

      Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon, 340

      Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces, 199

      Mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light to increase vitamin D, 3 ounces (not yet commonly available), 100

      Mackerel, cooked, 3 ounces , 97

      Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces, 39

      Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup, 29-31

      Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup (check product labels, as amount of added vitamin D varies), 25

      Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the DV for vitamin D, 6 ounces (more heavily fortified yogurts provide more of the DV), 20

      Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon, 15

      Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines, 12

      Liver, beef, cooked, 3.5 ounces, 12

      Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 0.75-1 cup (more heavily fortified cereals might provide more of the DV), 10

      Egg, 1 whole (vitamin D is found in yolk), 6

      Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce, 2

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