Does vitamin D lower my breast cancer risk?

November 28, 2018 | by Christine Gresik, MD

Vitamin D is a lot like drinking a glass of milk -- it does the body good in more ways than one. Not only does it help keep your spirits up, but it helps keep your bones strong, increase circulation and strengthen your immune system.

A new study suggests that having a higher concentration of vitamin D in your blood may also help lower your risk for breast cancer.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego pooled data from two randomized clinical trials with 3,325 combined participants and a prospective study involving 1,713 participants. All women studied were age 55 or older and data was collected over 15 years. At the time the study began, participants were free of cancer and were followed for an average of four years.

Over the course of the research, 77 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed for an age-adjusted incidence rate of 512 cases per 100,000 person-years. As a result, researchers determined that increasing vitamin D in blood levels substantially appeared to be important for the prevention of breast cancer.

Even though vitamin D may play a role in controlling normal breast cell growth and it may be able to stop breast cancer cells from growing, more research needs to be done since the study was limited to post-menopausal breast cancer.

Ensuring you are getting enough vitamin D can still be beneficial to your health. Here are some steps you can take to improve your vitamin D intake:

  • Spend more time outside. The most natural way is to get vitamin D is through the sun. You don’t need to tan or burn to get vitamin D – you should get enough vitamin D in half the amount of time it takes your skin to burn. If you enjoy being in the sun, here are some ways to get plenty of vitamin D and keep your skin healthy at the same time. 
  • Eat foods that are high in Vitamin D. These include: salmon, sardines, canned tuna oil, shrimp, egg yolks, mushrooms and fortified foods like orange juice, cereal and oatmeal. 
  • Consider taking a vitamin D supplement, which may be beneficial for older adults, people with limited sun exposure or dark skin.

You can also live healthier by reducing your risk of cancer, which includes:

  • Not smoking and keeping your home smoke free
  • Limiting alcohol intake and eating healthy
  • Exercising and keeping your weight in check
  • Protecting your skin from the sun
  • Getting vaccinated

If you think you need more vitamin D in your diet or if you think you have a vitamin D deficiency, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help you determine how much vitamin D your body really needs.

How do you make sure you are getting enough vitamin D in your diet? Tell us in the below comments.

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