Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer found in women. It is estimated that at least one out of every eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Every year number of breast cancer cases is growing – not only because of improved diagnostic methods but also because of increased numbers of women who use hormones, who have genetic predispositions, who suffer from obesity, etc.
In spite of hundreds of scientific projects targeted to discover breast cancer causes and prevention tools, presently it is still not clear what the real cause of breast cancer is and how breast cancer can be prevented. Risk factors for breast cancer are well clarified but there is not enough information concerning anticancer factors which can prevent breast cancer or can increase the survival rate among women who suffer from breast cancer.
During last decade several studies were performed about anticancer vitamin D – it was discovered that women with low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of breast cancer; this is especially true for post-menopausal females. At the same time, women who have higher levels of Vitamin D are less likely to develop breast cancer, and if they have breast cancer, the tumor is usually smaller with a lower incidence of death and recurrence. Vitamin D could play the important role in controlling normal breast cell growth and vitamin D may be able to stop breast cancer cells from growing. Few scientists are already suggested that vitamin D is found to have certain activities that slow down or prevent the development of cancer.
It was noted that breast cancer patients who had high vitamin D levels (average 30 ng/ml) were twice as likely to survive compared to women with low levels (average 17 ng/ml).
Vitamin D has very specific functions in women body – it helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential for good bone health. Vitamin D is important also for normal functioning of immune, muscle and nervous systems.
Human body produces vitamin D naturally from exposure to sunlight. If you spend short periods of direct peak sun exposure during 15 minutes (3 times a week), you already will have recommended daily amount of vitamin D. It is not possible to overdose on vitamin D from the sunlight. But it is important to remember that besides vitamin D benefits, sun exposure increases risk of skin cancer, including the most dangerous type of skin cancer such as melanoma.
Anticancer Vitamin D
Vitamin D is also identified in several food products such as fatty fish, fish liver oils, milks, cereals and other foods. Foods rich in vitamin D – salmon, herring, catfish, oysters, mackerel, sardines and steelhead trout. For example, one tablespoon of cod liver oil has 1,360 IUs, a can of tuna contains 154 IUs per serving, and a cup of fortified milk and orange juice contains between 115 and 137 IUs of vitamin D, respectively.
Modern women have limited access to sun exposure because of modern lifestyle – long time spent in offices or in the house, necessity of sun screen use, limited time spent in nature, etc. This is why vitamin D supplements are becoming important.
To reach the minimum needed level of vitamin D (40 ng/ml) you should take anywhere from 1,000 IUs to as much as 8,000 IUs of vitamin D per day. Some studies show that taking vitamin D supplements about 9,600 IU/day in 97.5% cases can insure the level of vitamin D in blood up to 40 ng/ml minimum.
Anticancer vitamin D is becoming an important factor in breast cancer prevention. It is important to mention that vitamin D can also increase chances of survival in women who are in the process of the fight against existing breast cancer (in combination of traditional treatment).
Vitamin D has a number of anticancer effects, including the promotion of cancer cell death, and the inhibition of angiogenesis (the growth of blood vessels that feed a tumor).
Normal serum level of vitamin D is 40-60 ng/ml.
Scientific studies demonstrated that vitamin D level of 50 ng/ml is associated with a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer.
Vitamin D foods
If you already have breast cancer or if you already received main treatments for breast cancer or if you are at higher risk of developing breast cancer (family history), controlling vitamin D levels and/or taking adequate levels of vitamin D intake certainly will not harm you in anyway and might even be beneficial. However, you should not consider it as a replacement for any traditional comprehensive medical treatment you might be prescribed or undergoing.
In all cases before you take any vitamin D supplements, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of the product. Regular testing of the vitamin D levels would be recommended.
Medical experts recommend taking the D3 form of the vitamin, not the D2 form.
The current recommendation is that people younger than 50 get 200 international units (I.U.) of vitamin D per day. 400 international units per day is recommended for people aged 50-70, and 600 international units per day is recommended for people older than 70. The typical multivitamin contains 400 international units of vitamin D.
Still, many researchers believe these recommendations are too low. The United States National Academy of Sciences is studying this issue and is expected to issue new, higher dietary guidelines for vitamin D intake.
Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.