According to a new study published in the March issue of Anticancer Research, the International Journal of Cancer Research and Treatment, higher concentrations of vitamin D could help reduce mortality rates among breast cancer patients.
In their study, titled “Meta-analysis of Vitamin D Sufficiency for Improving Survival of Patients with Breast Cancer,” researchers analyzed five different studies whose results were already known to discover a link between the presence of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and breast cancer mortality rates. The five studies reported hazard ratios (HRs) for mortality of breast cancer by concentrations of serum 25-hydroxvyvitamin D, which the researchers could then analyze.
Researchers used a series of statistical methods elaborated more on in their study to compare low concentrations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and high concentrations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D to breast cancer mortality rates. In three of the studies, the rates of mortality were much lower in the high concentrations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D compared to the low concentrations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. In the other two studies, there was a trend in that direction as well.
In the discussion section, the researchers write, “Patients with the highest concentration of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D had approximately half the fatality rate of those with the lowest concentration.”
What does this mean for breast cancer patients and their doctors?
Sharif B. Mohr told Medscape Medical News, “Doctors should emphasize the importance of maintaining adequate serum vitamin D levels, which would be 40 to 60 ng/mL for cancer prevention, and encourage their patients to have their vitamin D status regularly checked, especially in winter, to ensure that adequate serum levels are being maintained.”
And how does this relate to vitamin D supplements?
While being in the sun naturally produces vitamin D in the human body, many work indoors, in cubicles where the most natural light is fluorescent, and time in the sun can vary according to the season. Vitamin D supplements can act as a stop-gap for anyone at risk of the variety of problems caused by vitamin D deficiency.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, the study noted, with 1.7 million new cases worldwide and 500,000 deaths. The study notes that more research needs to be done to solidify the relationship between concentrations of vitamin D and breast cancer mortality rates, including a clinical trial to rule out other variables.
Image via Wikimedia Commons