High levels of vitamin D in blood could help in increasing the survival rate of breast cancer patients, reports a recent study.

According to Lawrence H. Kushi, a principal investigator of Kaiser Permanente's Pathways, women who had high amounts of vitamin D in blood have 30 percent increased chances of survival than women who had low levels of the vitamin.

Vitamin D And Breast Cancer

The study included patients diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. Samples of blood were taken from participants within two months of diagnosis. They were then asked to complete questionnaires on their lifestyle, diet and other risk factors related to the disease at different intervals of six weeks and two, four, six and eight years. 

Song Yao, the lead author of the study and oncology professor at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said that with the available sources of data, they were able to evaluate three major breast cancer outcomes: recurrence, second primary cancer and death.

Factors Contributing To Breast Cancer

Yao also noted that the findings were adjusted for various factors that contribute to breast cancer such as ethnicity, obesity, socioeconomic status, age, race and factors that impact cancer outcomes. With such adjustments, it was observed that women with high vitamin D levels had 55 percent elevated chances of survival.

It was also noted that high levels of vitamin D contributed to disease-free survival of patients with invasive breast cancer by 42 percent. Meanwhile, about 63 percent of patients were less likely to die of the disease.

Kushi noted that in-depth study on vitamin D has revealed its role in prevention and prognosis of breast cancer. The study adds to the growing body of evidence that vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients to our body.

However, Yao noted that the research needs further studies, and it isn't very certain yet that vitamin D helps the survival of breast cancer patients.

"We tried hard to eliminate all possible confounding factors, but this is not a clinical trial," Yao said. "So we cannot say with 100 percent certainty that vitamin D can improve breast cancer survival."

Role Of Vitamin D In Breast Cancer

Vitamin D, which is long known to support bone health, is also linked to different types of cancers. The main sources of vitamin D is sunlight, and other sources include fatty fish oils, cereals, fortified milk and supplements.

Though the role of vitamin D in preventing breast cancer is not clearly established, it is assumed that vitamin D could help in the normal development of mammary cells.

The study, which was funded by National Cancer Institute, is published in JAMA Oncology on Nov. 10.

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