Breast cancer researchers have recently come to some important conclusions for women. The universities of Chicago and Toronto released a study that shows a link between the spread of breast cancer and vitamin D, a nutrient that commonly comes from sunshine.
A new study shows that vitamin D might have a profound effect on slowing the progression of breast cancer. Researchers found that patients who do not have enough vitamin D are much more likely to have their cancer spread and to die from the disease. Breast cancer specialist, Dr. Anne McTiernan says the study is significant because it tells us this may be one thing women can do to improve their prognosis."
Researchers followed more than 500 women with early stage breast cancer for up to 17 years. They measured their levels of vitamin D upon diagnosis. They found that women with low levels of vitamin D were almost certain to have their cancer spread and were nearly 75 percent more likely to die from their cancer than women with adequate levels of vitamin D.
Professor JoEllen Welsh from New York State University says "Vitamin D is pretty unique in its actions in that it does enter the cancer cells and induces them to undergo a cell death process."
Welsh says the effects of vitamin D on breast cancer are similar to the effects of Tamoxifen, a drug that has been used for more than 30 years to treat breast cancer. Tamoxifen has proven to slow or stop the growth of breast cancer cells. It is also used to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women who have a high risk of getting the disease. But Tamoxifen can have serious side effects including blood clots or stroke. We get vitamin D from sunshine. It is also in some fish, dairy products, liver and in dietary supplements. The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends that men, women and even infants get five micrograms per day.
No one knows how vitamin D protects against breast cancer. But this study suggests it may become an important tool in helping women, and men, live longer, healthier lives.
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