VITAMIN D serum biomarker levels, particularly 25-hydroxyvitamin D, can be used to gauge vitamin deficiency or abundance among patients. In 2003 alone, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an alarming truth: 230,815 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 40,860 died across the USA that year. Now, researchers from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA, have released data supporting the notion of vitamin D benefit among cancer patients.
As the most common form of cancer in women, independent of race or ethnicity, and with >2.8 million survivors within the USA, studies into cost-effective prevention and chemotherapy support are welcome globally. In previously published studies, the effect of active metabolite calcitriol in mouse models yielded promising results; researchers noted a marked decrease in proliferation rates, tumour blood vessel formation, and the stimulation of cell death mechanisms. However, at present, the low number of human clinical trials has prevented the confirmation of this benefit in humans.
Dr Song Yao, Associate Professor of Oncology, Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA, and team, analysed data from a case-cohort of 1,666 members of the Pathways Study cohort, implemented to study breast cancer survivors in 2006. Examining levels of biomarker 25-hydroxyvitamin D from patients at the time of diagnosis and at regular intervals of 12, 24, 48, 72, and 96 months, the researchers found that women within the top tertile of serum levels obtained had the highest overall survival (OS); this correlation remained following adjustment for affecting factors such as environmental change, chemotherapy, and other forms of therapy (hazard ratio [HR]: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.54–0.98). Advanced stage tumours were associated with low levels, with the lowest recorded in triple-negative post-menopausal women.
“Our findings provide compelling observational evidence for inverse associations between vitamin D levels and risk of breast cancer progression and death,” commented Dr Yao. Although this was a non-causal study due to the cohort used, Dr Yao explained that the data does still support previous findings surrounding vitamin D and its promising health benefits. To establish the link further, randomised human clinical trials will still need to be executed.