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Vitamin D Helps increase Breast Cancer Survival

When I was diagnosed in 2008, I read every article I could find addressing factors thought to increase breast cancer survival rate. The topic of the effects of vitamin D levels on breast cancer patients has been in the news since at least that time. Countless studies have monitored Vitamin D levels in breast cancer patients and all seem to point in one direction. High levels of serum vitamin D increase survival rates.

Research continually suggests that vitamin D might be beneficial in treating all cancers. Studies cite the active metabolite of vitamin D – known as calcitriol – may be anti-cancerous. Administering calcitriol in mice has been shown to stop the proliferation and growth of cancer cells, reduce tumor blood vessel formation, and stimulate cell death.

In just one such article published by the University of San Diego School of Medicine researchers, “Cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood are twice as likely to survive the disease as women with low levels of this nutrient.” The study measured the relationship between 25-hydroxyvitamin D — a metabolite produced by the body from the ingestion of vitamin D — and breast cancer survival rates in 4,443 breast cancer patients. The level of this metabolite is measured by a simple blood test.

How does this metabolite inhibit cancer growth?

According to research, “Vitamin D metabolites increase communication between cells by switching on a protein that blocks aggressive cell division. As long as vitamin D receptors are present, tumor growth is prevented and kept from expanding its blood supply. Vitamin D receptors are not lost until a tumor is very advanced. This is the reason for better survival in patients whose vitamin D blood levels are high.”

What is the optimum level to inhibit tumor growth?

Before you adjust your vitamin D intake, it’s important to know your vitamin D serum level. This is done with a simple blood test that your doctor can order for you when you’re in for a routine physical. Vitamin D researchers recommend a serum level of 40-60 ng/ml (nanograms/milliliter).

Which Supplement is best?

If you’re going to take a supplement, most experts recommend taking the D3 form of the vitamin, not the D2 form. When I was tested, my Vitamin D level was 22 and my oncologist recommended a supplement of 2500 IU. At my follow-up treatment 6 months later, my level had risen to 65. If you are a breast cancer patient or living with NED, ask your Dr. about a Vitamin D serum test. You can then discuss your results with your Dr. and decide on the best course of action if needed. Beware of less expensive brands of D3 that may be gel caps using soybean oil. The brands I like to use contain olive or coconut oils and are organic. Beware of less expensive brands that include soybean oil as soy should be avoided for estrogen positive cancers.

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