Poor breast cancer survival without enough of this simple vitamin

A new study looked at vitamin D levels in women diagnosed with breast cancer. Turns out, women with insufficient and deficient levels of this critical nutrient prior to their diagnosis went on to develop more aggressive cancers with a poorer prognosis.

As I often report, it’s nearly impossible for most people to get enough vitamin D from diet alone. In addition, at this time of year, the sun in most parts of the country isn’t high enough in the sky to activate your skin’s production of vitamin D. So, in my view, year-round supplementation is a must — for just about everyone.

You may wonder, how much vitamin D should a woman take to boost her blood levels and help prevent breast cancer?

The answer should be obvious when you look at the science.

Indeed, ongoing studies show that higher, optimal doses of vitamin D help prevent not only breast cancer, but other types of cancer as well. This amount of supplementation can also help prevent Type II diabetes, dementia, depression, obesity, and heart disease.

In my view, every single doctor in the U.S. should test blood for vitamin D and recommend a daily vitamin D supplement year-round to every woman (and man) who walks into their office.

But they don’t.

Instead, they dither on about the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin D. And whether they should raise it by 400 IU…

As it stands now, the RDA for women ages 19 to 69 years is a mere 600 IU of vitamin D. That’s not even close to the amount women should be getting!

But remember, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the U.S. National Academies designed the RDAs to avoid outright medical states of nutritional deficiencies. And the mainstream remains reluctant to recognize that optimal levels of vitamins and minerals prevent — and even reverse — chronic diseases.

Women with low vitamin D have more aggressive cancers

For this new cross-sectional study, researchers with the University Hospital in Brazil looked at 192 postmenopausal women, ages 45 to 75 years, with a recent diagnosis of breast cancer. They measured blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D prior to breast cancer diagnosis.

The researchers categorized the women’s vitamin D levels as normal (greater than 30 ng/mL), insufficient (20 -29 ng/mL), and deficient (below 20 ng/mL).

(As you can see, all the levels fall below optimal levels associated with reduced risk and reversal of chronic diseases that have been observed in other studies in populations where some people achieve even higher levels. People can achieve higher levels than those observed, on average, in this study.)

Turns out, 48 percent of the women had insufficient levels of vitamin D prior to their breast cancer diagnosis. Eighteen percent had deficient levels. And just 34 percent had sufficient levels.

So — now — let’s ask the bigger question. How did these women fare when it came to their breast cancer diagnosis?

The women with deficient and insufficient levels had a greater proportion of highly malignant and locally invasive cancers. Their cancers also spread more to lymph nodes, metastasized to distant sites, and had a less favorable hormonal profile, which makes them less treatable. And — all the cases of triple negative breast cancer were found in women with low vitamin D levels.

These factors add up to a poorer prognosis and shorter survival in women with deficient and insufficient vitamin D levels.

Mainstream studies like this one do seem to acknowledge the problems of vitamin D deficiency for chronic diseases. But in the same breath, mainstream experts express “alarm” when people actually take higher, optimal doses of vitamin D, as I reported last summer.

Amazingly, since vitamin D doses are expressed in IU (international units), it makes a dose of 4,000 IU, for example, “sound” like it’s very high. But in standard weight terms — used for other common vitamins, minerals, and botanicals — these amounts are minuscule, in microgram (not milligram quantities).

A microgram is one-thousandth of a gram, and a microgram is one-thousandth of milligram — so not a “high” amount at all. That’s why the blood levels measured are also minuscule, measured in nanograms per milliliter — even smaller, tiny, little amounts.

Putting the doses in IU are just part of the myth that people are somehow getting “enough.” And I have never seen anyone else explain why the doses of vitamin D are so deceptive in this way.

So, don’t be fooled into thinking you are taking a “high” level of vitamin D, when you are not really taking enough to reach optimal levels for disease prevention and reversal.

If women at the equator can’t get enough sun, neither can you

It’s important to note that the women in this study lived in Brazil, a country straddling the equator, where there is plenty of sunshine year-round. But even in this equatorial country, where the sun shines high enough in the sky to active vitamin D in the skin year-round, vitamin D deficiency is a major and deadly problem.

If you live farther north than Brazil, in North America or Europe, the sun isn’t high enough now in the sky to activate your skin’s production of vitamin D, as I mentioned above.

So, as always, I recommend supplementing with 10,000 IU per day of vitamin D year-round and especially at this time of year. This optimal amount will help you prevent — and even reverse — chronic disease. It will also help reduce your risk of colds and flu.

You can get vitamin D in an easy-to-take liquid form. I prefer a liquid vitamin D containing a remarkable marine carotenoid, astaxanthin, which contains numerous benefits of its own, as I reported earlier this month. Just add a few drops a day added to your favorite beverage to enjoy the benefits of improved health.




“Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated With Poor Breast Cancer Prognostic Features in Postmenopausal Women,” J Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, October 11, 2017.