Producers Resource Center

Women With Breast Cancer Have Low Vitamin D Levels

The finding comes from scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center who recommend women should be given high doses of vitamin D.   The U.S. Institute of Medicine suggests that blood levels nearing 32 nanograms per milliliter are adequate.

Vitamin D, obtained from milk, fortified cereals and exposure to sunlight, is well known to play an essential role in cell growth, in boosting the body’s immune system and in strengthening bones. 

In a study of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, nearly 70 percent had low levels of vitamin D in their blood, according to a study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Breast Cancer Symposium in San Francisco. The analysis showed women with late-stage disease and non-Caucasian women had even lower levels. 

Scientists analyzed vitamin D levels in each woman.  They found the average level was 27 nanograms per milliliter.  More than two-thirds of the women had vitamin deficiency. Weekly supplementation with high doses of vitamin D — 50,000 international units or more — improved the levels, according to the researchers. 

Previous studies have shown that nearly half of all men and women are deficient in the nutrient, with vitamin D levels below 32 nanograms per milliliter.   Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include muscle pain, low energy and fatigue, lowered immunity, symptoms of depression and sleep irregularities.

Some 692,000 American women are diagnosed annually with cancer in the United States according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade group.  Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting 26 percent of women diagnosed with the illness.

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