It is an unforgiving disease that reportedly kills more than 450,000 women every single year all across the globe. But breast cancer and the likelihood of developing it is not an inevitable risk dictated purely by chance, as virtually all of the latest science on the subject reveals that vitamin D deficiency may be a major causative factor in breast cancer development.
The reason for this is that, like many other cells in the body, breast tissue cells bear special surface receptors that are designed to absorb vitamin D. When this pro-hormone attaches itself to these receptors, it essentially instructs breast cells how to behave, including how to divide and replicate in a healthy manner. Conversely, this same mechanistic action is believed to help protect breast cells against malignant mutations.
“There are vitamin D receptors in breast tissue, and vitamin D can bind to these receptors,” explains the Vitamin D Council. “This can cause cells like oncogenes to die or stop growing, and can stop the cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body. Therefore, it is thought that vitamin D may help in protecting against breast cancer, by making cells in the breast smarter.”
Maintaining optimal vitamin D levels may significantly decrease breast cancer risk. The most effective cure for breast cancer, in other words, is to avoid developing it in the first place, something that may be achieved by consistently maintaining high blood levels of vitamin D. A growing body of evidence suggests that there is a dose-response relationship between vitamin D and breast cancer risk, meaning that the higher one’s vitamin D level is, the lower her risk of developing breast cancer.
A meta-analysis of 14 different studies that was recently published in the journal Tumor Biology, for instance, observed a consistent dose-response relationship between vitamin D and breast cancer risk. Based on data covering more than 9,000 breast cancer patients and more than 16,000 controls, researchers found that, for every subsequent increase in blood serum vitamin D, a woman’s risk of breast cancer decreases by a significant amount.
“Dose-response analysis showed that every 10 ng/mL [nanograms per milliliter] increment in serum 25(OH)D [serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D] concentration was associated with a significant 3.2 percent reduction in breast cancer risk,” wrote the researchers from Hebei Medical University in China. “This meta-analysis provides evidence of a significantly inverse association between serum 25(OH)D concentration and breast cancer risk.”
Breast cancer patients may also benefit from maintaining optimal vitamin D levels. For those women who already have breast cancer, or who were previously diagnosed with breast cancer, the scientific literature suggests that vitamin D is beneficial for them as well. Though no actual studies have been conducted on vitamin D as a sole treatment for cancer, studies looking at vitamin D levels among breast cancer patients are quite revealing as to the medicinal potential of this powerful pro-hormone.
“In a review of many studies, researchers found that women with breast cancer who had low vitamin D levels had a more than doubled risk of their cancer coming back, and an almost doubled risk of death compared to women with high vitamin D levels,” adds the Vitamin D Council.
A 2012 study out of Belgium, for instance, found that women diagnosed with early breast cancer developed larger tumors when their vitamin D levels were low compared to other diagnosed women with high levels of vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels were also linked in the same study to an increased risk of death from breast cancer.
For a full review of all the latest science on vitamin D and breast cancer, be sure to visit the Vitamin D Council: