The Associations Between Vitamin D and Breast Cancer

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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 220,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States.1 Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of a woman’s breast.2 Breast cancer is among the most commonly diagnosed cancer, making it the second leading cause of death in women in the United States.1 Out of the 220,000 women diagnosed, around 40,860 of them die each year. Although there is not a cure for cancer, new research findings suggest associations between vitamin D (VD) and a decrease risk of diseases, such as cancer. Early epidemiological studies of cancer cells in mice has found that VD has several factors that might slow or prevent the development of cancer.3 Such activities include promoting cellular differentiation, decreasing cancer cell growth, stimulating apoptosis, and reducing tumor blood vessel formation. Because early epidemiological research showed that death rates for certain cancers was lower among individuals living in southern locations than those in northern ones, it was hypothesized that ultraviolet exposure from the sun, which leads to the production of vitamin D, might account for this association.3 Researchers wanted to further analyze the research gaps of these finding with vitamin D, but this time in relation to women and potential risk of breast cancer.

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, can be synthesized by the body through ultraviolet light exposure and dietary sources.4 Previous research has suggested vitamin D containing an anti-inflammatory effect that could interfere with cancer cell pathways. Some countries, such as countries in northern Europe, have limited sunlight, which make it difficult to maintain an optimal vitamin D level through diet alone.4 A study conducted in Istanbul, Turkey, sought to determine the prevalence of VD deficiency as measured by serum 25-OH D (25-hydroxy vitamin D level blood test) levels in patients with breast cancer.

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