In a new study, researchers find obesity and vitamin D deficiency may increase a woman’s breast cancer risk.
Vitamin D is already well known for its benefits in building healthy bones. This study supports the idea that it also may reduce cancer risk as well as breast cancer mortality.
Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in women worldwide and is the leading cause of death from cancer in women.
Reproductive risk factors such as early onset of puberty, late menopause, later age at first pregnancy, never having been pregnant, obesity, and a family history have all linked to breast cancer development.
The role of vitamin D concentration in the development of breast cancer, however, is not clear.
In the study, the team tested more than 600 Brazilian women.
The researchers found that postmenopausal women had an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency at the time of their breast cancer diagnoses, associated with higher rates of obesity than women of the same age group without cancer.
Previous studies also have previously demonstrated a relationship between vitamin D and breast cancer mortality.
Women in the highest quartile of vitamin D concentrations, in fact, had a 50% lower death rate from breast cancer than those in the lower quartile.
These findings suggest that vitamin D levels should be restored to a normal range in all women with breast cancer.
It is possible that vitamin D plays a role in controlling breast cancer cells or stopping them from growing.
Vitamin D comes from direct sunlight exposure, vitamin D3 supplements, or foods rich in vitamin D.
The study is published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
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