The month of October typically evokes pleasant thoughts about seasonal changes, upcoming holidays, and family gatherings…about enjoying quality of life.
October also is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of a disease that adversely affects the quality of lives of millions of women, their families, and friends around the world.* Many women truly fear breast cancer. Unfortunately, their trepidation is well justified. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. This devastating disease annually steals the lives of hundreds of thousands of women, according to the World Health Organization.
When hearing the words “breast cancer awareness,” we probably think of early detection as well as improved treatment options. How about preventing breast cancer? Let’s try to stop breast cancer before it begins–-by reducing the risk of developing breast cancer with vitamin D. By attaining and maintaining adequate vitamin D levels in your body, you can potentially Defend Your Life against breast cancer. Vitamin D supplementation is safe, easy, and inexpensive.
Vitamin D’s Anti-Cancer Functions
Vitamin D plays an essential role in regulating cellular activity. Adequate vitamin D in our bodies can protect us from the development of at least several types of cancer (including breast, colon, and prostate) because trillions of our cells contain vitamin D receptors (VDRs). These receptors receive, store, and, in many cases, produce vitamin D that activates anti-cancer functions such as cell regulation and gene expression. If our body has sufficient amounts of activated vitamin D stored in its receptors, the vitamin D will incite natural cell death, preventing malignant growth. When cells do not behave normally, they can proliferate and become “rogue” cells that offer an inviting home for cancer development.
How Vitamin D May Prevent Breast Cancer
Breast (mammary gland) cells are well-equipped with a high level of VDRs that receive, store, and produce activated vitamin D. If these VDRs are sufficiently active, they exude anti-cancer effects by: regulating cellular differentiation, proliferation, and natural death (apoptosis) in breast tissue, as well as gene expression. If the VDRs in breast tissue are not working at their optimal level, breast cancer may develop.
Extensive research including epidemiological studies has suggested that inadequate levels of vitamin D may significantly increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Recent examples include scientific studies that examined the role of vitamin D in breast cancer prevention:
Researchers associated with the University of Arizona conducted a case-control study of 120 Saudi Arabian women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and 120 healthy controls to ascertain the relationship between vitamin D levels and breast cancer risk. More than 60 percent of the women with invasive breast cancer had vitamin D levels less than 10 ng/mL, an amount far less than required to activate vitamin D that can protect breast cells from malignancy. The authors of the study published in the July 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that an increased risk of breast cancer is associated with low vitamin D levels in Saudi Arabian women.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France conducted a large population-based, case-control study of Mexican women aged 35-69 years to understand better the association between vitamin D levels and risk of breast cancer among pre- and post-menopausal Mexican females. Published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Cancer Causes & Control, the study results indicate “an inverse association between circulating vitamin D levels and breast cancer risk among pre- and post-menopausal Mexican women.”
How Vitamin D May Treat Breast Cancer
Scientific evidence has proven that vitamin D receptors in breast tissue cells receive, store, and produce activated vitamin D. This fact alone suggests that vitamin D has the potential to treat breast cancer patients.
Mounting medical research indicates vitamin D may play a role in treating breast cancer. In addition, recent scientific studies that examined the role of vitamin D in breast cancer treatment show promising results:
A landmark study, published in a January 2013 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology, offered encouraging news about less toxic and invasive treatment therapies. Susan Gonzalo, Ph.D. at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and her associates successfully identified specific genes that ultimately protect or promote the development of breast cancer cells. The research team discovered a molecular pathway that contributes to triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) and mutations in a tumor suppressor gene called BRCA1.** When the BRCA1 gene in the molecular pathway degrades, tumor cells can proliferate. However, Dr. Gonzalo and her colleagues found that vitamin D can reduce cell proliferation by restoring high levels of 53BP1, a DNA repair function that can be impaired by BRCA1 degradation.
In addition, further research of tissue samples from breast cancer patients with BRCA1-mutated tumors or TNBC revealed a new set of three biomarkers (high levels of an enzyme called nuclear cathepsin L, decreased levels of 53BP1, and low vitamin D). This recently discovered triple-biomarker signature will help doctors identify patients who might benefit from customized treatment including vitamin D therapy.
An October 2013 report published in an issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment explored the association between vitamin D and early-stage breast cancer. Canadian researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of medical literature from the several decades to better understand the connection between vitamin D levels and early stage breast cancer prognosis. The research team concluded that higher vitamin D levels correlated with improved breast cancer prognosis.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may want to consider vitamin D therapy by consulting with your healthcare practitioner. Adequate vitamin D supplementation in concert with alternative and integrative treatments may overcome some types of breast cancer.***
Avoid Becoming a Breast Cancer Statistic with Vitamin D
Vitamin D’s capability to affect natural cell death and gene expression negates the opportunity for breast cancer cells to proliferate, develop into a tumor, and spread to other parts of the body. This fact alone should encourage everyone to ensure their vitamin D levels are adequate!
The American Cancer Society estimates that 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. Why acquiesce to this projected statistic? Compelling medical evidence supports the connection between vitamin D levels and the risk of developing breast cancer. High levels of vitamin D in the body directly correlate with a decreased risk of breast cancer. With little effort, you can increase your vitamin D levels to protect from developing breast cancer. Now is the time to Defend Your Life with vitamin D!
*Although the development of breast cancer men is rare, about 2,190 American men, for example, are diagnosed annually with the disease.
**Often occurring in younger women, TNBC is the most difficult breast cancer to treat. Women who carry the BRCA1 gene are at increased risk of developing TNBC.
***Renowned author, speaker, and coach Judi Moreo discusses how vitamin D3 supplementation helped her to overcome breast cancer.
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