High vitamin D levels better breast cancer outcomes

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By David Liu, PHD

Saturday July 14, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study in the May 2012 issue of Carcinogenesis suggests maintaining high levels of vitamin D in the blood may increase the odds of survival for patients with breast cancer.

The study led by S. Hatse of Catholic University Leuven and University Hospitals  in Leuven, Belgium and colleagues women who had lower serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamn D3(23OHD) at the time of diagnosis of breast cancer tended to have a larger tumor size, compared to those who had higher levels.

The researchers acknowledged genetic variants in 25-hydroxylase and vitamin D-binding protein significantly determined serum 25OHD levels, but in the study did not seem to affect the observed association between serum vitamin D levels and the size of breast cancer.  This means the tumor size was largely affected by the level of vitamin D.  Large tumors mean bigger risk.

The study also found higher serum levels of vitamin D3 were correlated with overall survival and disease specific survival and had a moderate effect on disease-free interval, which were observed after a 3-year follow-up.

The benefits of vitamin D seemed particularly stronger among postmenopausal women with breast cancer.   Among postmenopausal breast cancer patients, those with greater than 30 ng of vitamin D3 per mL of blood at diagnosis were 85 percent and 57 percent more likely to survive from the disease and have disease-free interval, respectively, than those who had less than 30 ng per mL. 

The study concluded high vitamin D levels at early breast cancer diagnosis are correlated with smaller tumor sizes and better overall survival odds, and improve breast cancer-specific outcome, particularly in postmenopausal patients.

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