As such, the experts say women with breast cancer should be given high doses of vitamin D (50,000 international units or more) because a majority of them are likely to have low levels of vitamin D, which could contribute to decreased bone mass and greater risk of fractures.
The Institute of Medicine recommends 200 IU daily for most women up to age 50, 400 IU for women 51-70, and 600 IU for women 71 and older. In addition to availability in pill form, vitamin D is found in small amounts in foods like oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel). It is also added to milk, some cereals, and orange juice.
Experts encouraged women to have their vitamin D levels checked as part of their annual checkups. Vitamin D is also achieved naturally through sunlight exposure, although prolonged sun exposure is also linked to skin cancer.
The National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements cautions further research is needed to determine whether vitamin D inadequacy in particular increases cancer risk, whether greater exposure to the nutrient is protective, and whether some individuals could be at increased risk of cancer because of vitamin D exposure. The National Institutes of Health has more information on Vitamin D. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/vitamin-D
Lynette Summerill, is an award-winning journalist who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to writing about cancer-related issues, she writes a blog, Nonsmoking Nation, which follows global tobacco news and events.
“Frequency of vitamin D (Vit D) deficiency at breast cancer (BC) diagnosis and association with risk of distant recurrence and death in a prospective cohort study of T1-3, N0-1, M0 BC.” Presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. First author: Pamela Goodwin, University of Toronto.
Parfitt AM. Osteomalacia and related disorders. In: Avioli LV, Krane SM, eds. Metabolic bone disease and clinically related disorders. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1990:329-96.