Research shows a correlation between breast cancer and vitamin D deficiency. Learn how vitamin D can protect your overall health and how to get enough.
Vitamin D and Breast Health
In one 2019 meta-analysis of 22 studies, researchers concluded that vitamin D deficiency is directly related to breast cancer.
In another meta-analysis, this one from all continents except Australia, researchers evaluated more than 25 studies that measured the risk of breast cancer and vitamin D insufficiency (a level of extreme deficiency). They found that 67 percent of breast cancer patients were vitamin-D insufficient, compared to 33 percent of the control group, with healthy breasts.
In yet another meta-analysis, published in the British Journal of Cancer, researchers evaluated 30 studies and more than 31,000 breast cancer patients for vitamin D levels. Those who had the highest levels of vitamin D had a 42 percent lower risk of dying from cancer than the women who had the lowest levels of vitamin D. In the same study, the highest vitamin D levels were also linked to improved prognosis in colon and prostate cancers.
Thankfully, in 2000, the incidence of breast cancer for women started to decline, likely because of a decline in hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Still, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer diagnosed worldwide for women. According to a 2021 estimates, 1 in 8 (12.4 percent of) American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer over their lifetimes.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Sadly, vitamin D deficiencies are still quite prevalent in the US, and around the world. According to a 2021 StatPearls epidemiology report, there are more than 1 billion people worldwide with a vitamin D deficiency.
In the US alone, 35 percent of middle-age adults are vitamin D deficient, while nearly 50 percent of infants and 61 percent of the elderly are vitamin D deficient.
In India, 96 percent of the elderly population is vitamin-D deficient, and in Turkey, that number is 90 percent.
This is a global health crisis.
There are reasons why more and more folks are vitamin D deficient. Of course a lack of sunlight is a major cause, but poor absorption from food also plays a big role.
Digestive issues, including food intolerances and chronic digestive distress, are a sign of poor nutrient assimilation and often linked to vitamin D deficiencies.
Liver and kidney disease have been identified as a cause of vitamin D deficiency. While supplementing with vitamin D is an important practice, it doesn’t always work. Underlying factors like digestive, liver, and kidney health must be evaluated as well.
4 Ways Vitamin D Works for Breast Health
Research has shown that vitamin D is linked to breast health. Here are four ways sufficient vitamin D can influence your health:
- Vitamin D has been found to support healthy cellular replication and natural cell death, called apoptosis.
- Vitamin D regulates dozens of gene pathways that are linked to breast health.
- Vitamin D supports healthy breast tissue by regulating the body’s natural response to inflammation triggers.
- Vitamin D supports the activity of numerous immune cells, including killer T cells linked to breast health.
Seasonal Vitamin D Requirements
Every winter, even in southern states, it becomes more difficult to get vitamin D because the sun is often too low in the sky. UVB rays are blocked. These are the rays that trigger the manufacturing of vitamin D.
I recommend getting your vitamin D levels tested annually and trying to maintain an optimal level of vitamin D3, which is between 50-80 ng/mL. A typical dose in the winter for most people is 4-5000 IU a day, but individual response will vary, so it’s important to get tested regularity.