October 17 2006
(NewsTarget) According to new research published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology, women with advanced-stage breast cancer have significantly lower levels of vitamin D in their bodies than women in the early stages of the disease.
A team of scientists from Imperial College London conducted a study of 279 women with breast cancer. The disease was in the advanced stage in 75 of the women, and in its early stages in the remaining 204 women.
The researchers found that the women with early-stage breast cancer had considerably higher circulating levels of vitamin D in their bodies compared to women in the advanced stages of the disease. The exact reasons for the difference were unclear, and the researchers did not know if the lower vitamin D levels in advanced-stage women were a consequence of the cancer or a cause.
Previous research has indicated that low levels of vitamin D in women may cause breast cancer to progress to more advanced stages, and studies have shown that having adequate levels of circulating vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing the disease. Laboratory research has found that vitamin D -- which can be obtained through sunlight exposure or consuming foods rich in the vitamin, such as oily fish and eggs -- enhances cancer cell death and prevents cancer cells from dividing.
"This report, while being an observational study, clearly shows that circulating vitamin D levels are lower in advanced breast cancer as compared to early breast cancer," said Dr. Carlo Palmieri of Imperial College London. "It lends support to the idea that vitamin D has a role in the progression of breast cancer.
Palmieri said more research was needed to determine the exact causes and underlying mechanisms behind the differences in vitamin D levels in early- and late-stage breast cancer patients.
"We also need to look at the potential clinical implications of monitoring and maintaining high circulating vitamin D levels in breast cancer patients," Palmieri said. "By answering these questions, we may be able to improve the treatment of women with breast cancer."
Natural health advocate Mike Adams, author of "The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D," said having adequate vitamin D levels in the body correlates directly with a reduction in breast and prostate cancer risk.
"Vitamin D is, simply put, one of the best-known cancer prevention medicines in the world," Adams said. "People can make it for free by seeking out sensible levels of sunlight exposure, without using sunscreen."