Vitamin D cuts breast cancer risk

March 21, 2007 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News

Vitamin D cuts breast cancer risk

According to researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, increased vitamin D levels during youth may cut the risk of breast cancer later in life by over 30 percent.

To study the effects of vitamin D on breast cancer risk, researchers recruited over 900 women with newly diagnosed invasive breast cancer, and over 1,100 healthy controls.  For each group they assessed major sources of vitamin D intake during adolescence, including sunlight exposure, cod liver oil intake and milk consumption.

Researchers found that exposure to sunlight during adolescence, was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer by 35 percent.

Cod liver oil was associated with a 24 percent reduced risk, while milk consumption (10 glasses per week) was associated with a 38 percent lower risk.

While there were some limitations to the study, most notably, being based on recall of dietary habits early in life - these findings do support a rapidly growing body of evidence that suggests vitamin D may protect against cancer.  These latest findings were published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

The official recommendations from the U.S. based Institute of Medicine call for people between the ages 1 and 50 to consume 200 IU of vitamin D daily. Adults aged 51 to 70 need 400 IU and after the age of 70, a daily intake of 600 IU is recommended. (With age, the ability of our skin to produce vitamin D from sunlight is decreased.)

Yet, these numbers are deemed too low by many experts. The Osteoporosis Society of Canada advises adults aged 19-50 get 400 IU (international units) of vitamin D each day and adults over 50 consume 800 IU. Other experts suggest a daily vitamin D intake of 1000 IU for cancer prevention.

Main sources of vitamin D include sunlight (it is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight), egg yolks, fatty fish, milk, and fortified milk alternatives.  Most multivitamins supply 400 IU of the vitamin.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.