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Vitamin D Can Reduce Your Risk for Developing Breast Cancer

Vitamin D is important for more than just strong bones; it’s essential for your overall health.

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Vitamin D is a prohormone group that consists of vitamin D, vitamin D2 (calciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) – and is necessary for many physiological processes in the body. Vitamin D is a vitamin, but when we think of it as a hormone we begin to see how and why it affects so many systems of the body. Vitamin D, and especially vitamin D3, impacts not only calcium absorption but also the endocrine system including thyroid function and estrogen levels.

There has been a great deal of research in recent years showing vitamin D deficiency as a contributing factor in many conditions and diseases, including cancer. In fact, studies show that women with the highest levels of vitamin D had 34% lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels of vitamin D. In animal studies, vitamin D deficiency has been shown to increase the overgrowth of breast tissue cells, increasing the instances of breast tumors and cancer.

Vitamin D Reduces the Rate of Tumor Growth

Studies have demonstrated that vitamin D inhibits tumors, especially in breast tissue. The breasts contain a high concentration of prostaglandins, a group of physiologically active lipid compounds that have diverse, hormone-like effects on the body. When these prostaglandins are released from breast cancer cells (tumors), they stimulate tumor growth by promoting cell proliferation. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the release of these prostaglandins, significantly reducing the rate of tumor growth.

Dark Skin and Higher Rates of Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D3 in particular is synthesized as a result of our exposure to sunlight. Melanin in dark skin blocks the formation of vitamin D3, so those with dark skin tend to have higher rates of vitamin D deficiency. Breast cancer mortality rates are 28% higher among black people and, while this may be in part because black people tend to be diagnosed at later stages of breast cancer than white people, it is also in part because of higher rates of vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D and Estrogens

Vitamin D has also been shown to inhibit both the synthesis and physiological actions of estrogens in the body. Calcitriol down-regulates the synthesis of estrogen, reducing the stimulation estrogen provides to cancer cells, encouraging them to proliferate. Inhibition of estrogen along with the anti-inflammatory actions of calcitriol plays an important role in decreasing breast cancer.

With research demonstrating how vital vitamin D is to our overall health and well-being, it is important that we ensure we are getting enough to keep our systems running smoothly. With 25% to 50% of Americans deficient in vitamin D, supplementation is an excellent way to be sure you are maintaining the levels necessary to not only ensure calcium absorption, but to also balance estrogen and progesterone levels and reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Editor’s Note: Natural Wellness’ Vitamin D3 is the most effective form of vitamin D.

Chlebowski, R.T. (2011). Vitamin D and breast cancer: interpreting current evidence. Breast Cancer Research. 13(4): 217. Retrieved on 3/2/16 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3236325/pdf/bcr2846.pdf.

Garland, C.F.; Garland, F.C.; Gorham, E.D.; Lipkin, M.; Newmark, H.; Mohr, S.B.; and Holick, M.F. (2006). The role of vitamin D in cancer prevention. American Journal of Public Health. 96:2. Retrieved on 11/16/15 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470481/pdf/0960252.pdf.

Gaynor, M., M.D. (2015). Vitamin D fights cancer. Bottom Line Personal. Retrieved on 11/16/15 from http://bottomlinepersonal.com/vitamin-d-fights-cancer/.

Krishnan, A.V.; Swami, S.; Feldman, D. (2010). Vitamin D and breast cancer: Inhibition of estrogen synthesis and signaling. Journal of Steroid Biochemical Molecular Biology. 121(1-2): 343-348. Retrieved on 3/2/16 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20156557.

Shao, T.; Klein, P.; Grossbarda, M.L. (2012). Vitamin D and breast cancer. Oncologist. 17(1): 36-45. Retrieved on 3/2/16 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3267821/pdf/onc36.pdf.

NIH Editors. (2011). Vitamin D fact sheet. National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved on 11/16/15 from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/.

Vaidya, V.; Ali, M.M. (2007). Vitamin D and cancer.  Journal of Cancer Research & Therapy. 3(4): 225-230. Retrieved on 11/15/16 from http://www.cancerjournal.net/article.asp?issn=0973-1482;year=2007;volume=3;issue=4;spage=225;epage=230;aulast=Ali.

Woodward, K. (2016). Vitamin D linked to reduced estrogen and breast cancer risk. FredHutch.org. Retrieved on 3/2/16 from https://www.fredhutch.org/en/news/center-news/2016/02/vitamin-d-linked-to-reduced-estrogen-and-breast-cancer-risk.html.

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