New research from Canada indicates dietary intake of Vitamin D and calcium does not appear to influence women’s risk of breast cancer, before or after menopause. However, the study findings do suggest Vitamin D in supplement form offer protection against the disease.
Laura N. Anderson, one of the study’s authors and a doctoral student at Cancer Care Ontario in Toronto told Reuters Health, these new findings on vitamin D supplements were promising enough o warrant more research.
Some previous studies had indicated Vitamin D may reduced the risk of breast cancer, as Anderson notes breast cells have receptors for vitamin D, which raises the possibility the nutrient helps regulate the division and proliferation of these cells. Increasingly, there is growing evidence Vitamin D may also help protect against other cancer types.
According to Anderson, vitamin D and calcium often go hand in hand when it comes to diet and supplements, as Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption and women who want strong bones as they age are advised to take both. As well, many calcium-rich foods, such as, milk are enriched with vitamin D.
The researchers surveyed 3,101 breast cancer patients and 3,471 healthy controls to separate the effects of vitamin D and calcium on breast cancer risk, by asking them about their intake of food and supplements.
They found there to be no relationship between overall Vitamin D intake and breast cancer risk; nor any association between overall calcium intake and risk of the disease.
However, women who reported taking at least 400 international units of vitamin D every day were at 24% lower risk of developing breast cancer.
The findings have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, with health authorities in Canada, the US and other countries looking at revising the current recommendations on Vitamin D intake upward, as it seems higher intakes of the vitamin D may be more beneficial.