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Vitamin D prevents breast cancer, study suggests again

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By David Liu, PHD

Thursday Aug 2, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- It has been known that high serum levels of vitamin D are associated with low risk of breast cancer. A new Mexican study published online on May 24, 2012 in Cancer Causes and Control confirms the association and suggests that using vitamin D supplements may help prevent breast cancer.

The study led by V. Fedirko of International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France and colleagues showed that serum 25(OH)D concentration (per 10 ng/mL increase)  was inversely associated with risk of breast cancer in all women, premenopausal women and postmenopausal women.

This case-control study involved 1,000 incidence cases of breast cancer aged 35 to 69 and 1,074 controls who were matched on age, region and health care system.

Specifically, women with higher levels (greater than 30 ng/mL of 25(OH)D) were 47 percent less likely to develop breast cancer, compared to those with serum vitamin D 25(OH)D below 20 ng/mL. In premenopausal women, the risk reduction was 40 percent and in postmenopausal women, the risk was cut by 63 percent.

The researchers concluded "The results of this large population-based case-control study indicate an inverse association between circulating vitamin D levels and breast cancer risk among pre- and postmenopausal Mexican women."

Breast cancer is expected to be diagnosed in more than 220,000 women in the United States in 2012 and the disease is expected to kill about 40,000 women annually in the country, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with high risk of 17 malignancies including breast cancer, according to Vitamin D Council.  Previous research suggests that overall, 70 percent of breast cancer cases could be prevented if sufficient vitamin D is maintained by taking vitamin D supplements or sufficient exposure to the sun.

Not all doses of vitamin D prevent breast cancer.  Food consumers are urged to use the "effective" dosages.  Too low a dose may not render any effect and too high a dose may be toxic to your health.

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