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Study Ties High Levels of Vitamin D to Breast Cancer Survival

Update Date: Mar 07, 2014 09:36 AM EST

In a new study, researchers reported that vitamin D could help boost survival rates for breast cancer patients. According to the team from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, breast cancer patients who had higher levels of vitamin D were more likely to survive than patients with lower levels of vitamin D.

For this study, the researchers examined a total of 4,443 breast cancer patients taken from five studies and follow-ups that had analyzed the relationship between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D 25(OH)D status and cancer survival rates. Serum 25(OH)D status measures the level of vitamin D in the blood. From each of the studies, the researchers compared the lowest to the highest levels of serum 25(OH)D. The team then used the Observed-Expected and variance method to calculate and compare the data from all five studies.

The researchers discovered a strong relationship between serum 25(OH)D and breast cancer mortality rate. In three of the studies, the findings reported a statistically significantly reduction in risk of death from breast cancer when serum 25(OH)D concentrations were higher. The researchers concluded that adding vitamin D as a part of a breast cancer patient's treatment plan could be highly beneficial.

"The study has implications for including vitamin D as an adjuvant to conventional breast cancer therapy," said co-author Heather Hofflich, UC San Diego associate professor in the Department of Medicine reported by the Almagest.

"Vitamin D metabolites increase communication between cells by switching on a protein that blocks aggressive cell division," stated Cedric Garland, professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. "As long as vitamin D receptors are present tumor growth is prevented and kept from expanding its blood supply. Vitamin D receptors are not lost until a tumor is very advanced. This is the reason for better survival in patients whose vitamin D blood levels are high."

The study, "Meta-analysis of Vitamin D Sufficiency for Improving Survival of Patients with Breast Cancer," was published in Anticancer Research.

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