May 8, 2007

Breast Cancer Progression Correlates with Lower Vitamin D Levels

by Kevin Flatt

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reported on 17th October 2006 that a new study shows women with advanced breast cancer had lower levels of vitamin D than those in the early stages of the disease. Researchers at Imperial College London claim it is more evidence the vitamin - which comes from sunlight - may protect against cancer, and are planning to investigate whether supplements can help fight the disease. (Daily Mail (U.K.) 17/10/2006).

Previous research has indicated that low levels of vitamin D in women may cause breast cancer to progress to more advanced stages, and studies have shown that having adequate levels of circulating vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing the disease. ( 17/10/2006).

Example: Not only does the active form of vitamin D, calcitriol (the form made in optimal quantities by your body when your vitamin D blood levels are ideal) inhibit breast cancer cells from growing, it makes those cells grow and die more like natural cells. Furthermore, vitamin D inhibits the formation of excessive blood vessel growth around the cancerous tumour, a process called anti-angiogenesis. (Braz J Med Biol Res. 2002 Jan;35(1):1-9).

“Vitamin D levels are lower in women with advanced breast cancer than in early breast cancer,’ said Dr. Carlo Palmieri of Imperial College London. “It lends support to the idea that vitamin D has a role in the progression of breast cancer,” he told Reuters. “We know from previous studies that breast cancer incidence is higher in women who live in higher latitudes and have less sun exposure,” said Palmieri. ( 17/10/2006).

As reported in my earlier article “Vitamin D protects against Breast Cancer & curbs tumour progression” exposure to sunlight is the greatest source of vitamin D and population studies have previously suggested higher vitamin D levels may contribute to the lower incidence of breast cancer seen in sunny climates such as the Mediterranean.

Medical News Today reported on 17 Oct 2006 that the authors reached their conclusion from a study of 279 women with invasive breast cancer. The disease was in the early stages in 204 women, and advanced in the remainder. The results of blood tests to measure levels of vitamin D showed that women with early stage disease had significantly higher levels of vitamin D and significantly lower levels of parathyroid hormone than did the women with advanced disease.

The Medical News Today article went on to report that it is known that vitamin D treatment boosts the activity of certain key genes and dampens it down in others. One gene that is boosted is p21, which has an important role in controlling the cell cycle. Low levels of vitamin D may therefore promote progression to advanced disease, venture the authors. (Medical News Today17/10/2006).

Jessica Fraser, reporting for NewsTarget wrote that Natural health advocate Mike Adams, author of “The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D,” said having adequate vitamin D levels in the body correlates directly with a reduction in breast and prostate cancer risk.

“Vitamin D is, simply put, one of the best-known cancer prevention medicines in the world,” Adams said. “People can make it for free by seeking out sensible levels of sunlight exposure, without using sunscreen.” (Jessica Fraser, 17/10/2006).

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology. The authors stated that vitamin D levels have been shown to be higher in normal women compared with those who have primary breast cancer, and decrease with the progression of bone metastases. This report, while being an observational study, clearly shows that circulating vitamin D levels are lower in patients with advanced breast cancer than in those with early breast cancer. (J Clin Pathol 2006;0:1–3. doi: 10.1136/jcp.2006.).

Remember, 90 % of our vitamin D comes from sun exposure. Vitamin D from diet and supplements is close to insignificant due to the small amounts consumed. (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999 May;8(5):399-406).

Dr. Michael Holick, a leading vitamin D researcher who serves as director of the general clinical research center at Boston University Medical Center, said it’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from food, noting that you’d have to eat a 3½-ounce serving of fish like salmon, mackerel or sardines “almost every day just to begin to satisfy your requirement.”

The NIH agrees: It can be difficult to obtain enough vitamin D from natural food sources. For many people, consuming vitamin D fortified foods and adequate sunlight exposure are essential for maintaining a healthy vitamin D status. In some groups, dietary supplements may be needed to meet the daily need for vitamin D.

Make sure you’re taking D3. If the label says vitamin D2, then it’s not the good kind of vitamin D. So often, you see orange juice or foods that say they’re vitamin D fortified. But many times, those are fortified with D2. Vitamin D has to be taken with fat. Taking a vitamin D pill with orange juice isn’t going to work, it won’t absorb.

Try to get brand-name recommendations. Sadly, many doctors haven’t learned about supplements in medical school, so your doctor may not be able to advise you on that. To find the best brands, do your homework. Either get names of products from people you trust, or go on the Internet and look these supplements up.

Finally, a new look at 528 melanoma victims over five years also found that increased sun exposure led to increased survivability, according to the study led by Marianne Berwick of the department of internal medicine at the University of New Mexico. “It’s totally counterintuitive, and we’re trying to investigate it,” said Berwick, who is doing a similar study of 3,700 melanoma patients worldwide. “It’s really strange, because sunburn seems to be one of the factors associated with improved survival.” (The Baltimore Sun 2/2/2005).

Related articles:
Cancer (General) Articles and News
Vitamin D protects against Breast Cancer & curbs tumour progression


Bortman P, Folgueira MA, Katayama ML, Snitcovsky IM, Brentani MM. Antiproliferative effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on breast cells: a mini review. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2002 Jan;35(1):1-9.

Journal of Clinical Pathology
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in early and advanced breast cancer Online First J Clin Pathol 2006; doi.10.1136/jcp.2006.

John EM, Schwartz GG, Dreon DM, Koo J. Vitamin D and breast cancer risk: the NHANES I Epidemiologic follow-up study, to 1992. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999 May;8(5):399-406.,1,.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines

Copyright 2007 Kevin Flatt. Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is presented for information purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. It cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment.

Copyright 2007 Kevin Flatt. Reproduction of any information on other websites is PROHIBITED.

Disclaimer: The information and opinions on this website is for information purposes only and is believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author. Readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. Readers who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.