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New evidence that metastases and death from breast cancer are linked to low Vitamin D levels

By John Cardillo Premier Fitness Health

At Premier Fitness Health we believe in keeping our members informed on the most current information that can enhance their health and quality of life. Recently it was reported in the media about the positive effects of Vitamin D in helping to prevent cancer. Results of a new study were revealed, indicating that low levels of Vitamin D in women who have breast cancer may heighten their mortality rate and greatly increase their risk of metastases, or the spreading of the cancer to other parts of their body. Women who had insufficient levels were 94 percent more likely to have their breast cancer spread within 10 years after diagnosis than those who had the higher levels. And a decade later, 85 percent of the women who had sufficient levels were alive, as compared to only 74 per cent of those with low levels.

Commonly called the “sunshine vitamin” because the natural way to take in the substance is through exposure to sunlight, Vitamin D is elusive to Canadian women. Our northern latitude causes our winter sunlight to be weaker, lessening the action of ultraviolet light on the skin. The mounting body of evidence suggests Vitamin D’s potentially important role in preventing cancer and/or improving the prognosis for cancer patients. This indicates that breast cancer may be treated in part with inexpensive over-the-counter supplements, and that the routine checking and correcting of Vitamin D levels by doctors may lessen their patients’ likelihood of developing the disease. Breast-cancer cells have receptors affecting cell reproduction that can use Vitamin D, and the vitamin is essential for many other body functions.

This important study involving the University of Toronto was conducted at three affiliated Hamilton and Toronto hospitals. The 512 women (average age 50) who took part were diagnosed with breast cancer and their lives and deaths were followed for more than 10 years. Their Vitamin D status was determined before their treatments were started, and only 24 per cent had adequate levels at that time.

The study is considered so important that the American Society of Clinical Oncology  has discussed the results at its annual meetings.  The study is the first to have substantiated the link between low levels of Vitamin D and the progression of breast cancer. Although the link has not been shown to be causal, it is substantial enough to suggest that women may want to introduce Vitamin D into their regular vitamin intake on a daily basis. The optimum dosage is still undetermined, and in fact, taking too much Vitamin D may be counterproductive. The recommended dosage is the same as that recommended for bone health, or 600 to 800 international units a day. And of course, short periods of exposure to sunshine is a great way to get Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential and should belong in every diet plan. A diet to strongly consider is the Intelligent prescriptive nutrition program founded by John Cardillo, of Premier Fitness health.

Considering the fact that breast cancer is expected to strike about 22,400 Canadian women this year, with an estimated 5,300 dying from the disease, these findings take on even more significance. Remember, too, that obesity is a risk factor for cancer in women, so a regimen of regular exercise, proper nutrition and vitamin supplements to prevent deficiencies is an important step toward living a longer, healthier life.