Breast cancer is the considered as the most common invasive cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer. Advances in screening and treatment for breast cancer have improved survival rates dramatically since 1989. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. The chance of any woman dying from breast cancer is around 1 in 38 (2.6%).
The ACS estimates that 268,600 women will receive a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer, and 62,930 people will receive a diagnosis of noninvasive cancer in 2019.In the same year, the ACS report that 41,760 women will die as a result of breast cancer. However, due to advances in treatment, death rates from breast cancer have been decreasing since 1989.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble secosteroids responsible for increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, and many other biological effects. In humans, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D₃ and vitamin D₂. Vitamin D is involved in calcium absorption, immune function, and protecting bone, muscle, and heart health. It occurs naturally in food and can also be produced by your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
Research suggests that vitamin D may have numerous benefits related to cancer. The Vitamin D Council — a scientist-led group promoting vitamin D deficiency awareness — suggests vitamin D treatment might be found helpful in treating or preventing autism, autoimmune disease, cancer, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, heart disease, high bloodpressure, flu, neuromuscular diseases, and osteoporosis. However, there have been no definitive clinical trials. That’s why the Institute of Medicine expert committee’s November 2010 review found no conclusive evidence that vitamin D, by itself, offers wide-ranging health benefits.
“Despite the many claims of benefit surrounding vitamin D in particular, the evidence did not support a basis for a causal relationship between vitamin D and many of the numerous health outcomes purported to be affected by vitamin D intake,” the IOM committee concluded.
Does vitamin D supplementation increase breast cancer survival?
The average 5-year survival rate for women with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 90%. The average 10-year survival rate for women with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 84%. If the invasive breast cancer is located only in the breast, the 5-year survival rate of women with this disease is 99%.
According to studies suggest that vitamin D reduces people’s risk of dying during the study periods, indicating that it may help you live longer . One study noted that 1,100 IU per day — alongside calcium — reduced cancer risk by 60%. According to a study published in JAMA Oncology, Vitamin D has been shown to suppress cell proliferation and induce apoptosis in a variety of cancer cell models including breast cancer. It has been found that vitamin D promotes the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation by the suppression of survivin.
Survivin refers to the smallest member of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein family that is overexpressed in virtually all cancer types, but hardly detectable in normal differentiated tissues. The study concluded that vitamin D should be considered for use in women with breast cancer after excluding potential risk factors for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and performing a careful surveillance by cardiovascular disease screening.
Research studies are needed to outline primary end points in breast cancer and also to define threshold vitamin D levels above which supplementations might not be safe for the heart.