Breast Cancer, Integrative Medicine, and Vitamin D Part 2 (Of 3)

In Part 1 of this article I discussed the importance of Vitamin D in treatment of Cancer including of the breast. Let us look at some of the articles that have show the value of Vitamin D.

The Lappe Prospective study of Vitamin D and cancer prevention

In this study, Joan Lappe PhD, RN and colleagues looked prospectively at more than 400 postmenopausal women over a four-year period of time. In one group the women were given 1100 IU of vitamin D and 1000 mg of calcium daily. The control group did not receive this. The results of the study were that the women who took the vitamin D and calcium over the ensuing four years reduced their rate of cancer by an amazing 60%. In fact the authors looked in more detail and found that for every 10 ng/ml increase in a woman’s vitamin D blood level, the relative risk of cancer dropped by 35%. These data were not limited to breast cancer but included all cancers.

Goodwin Study

In this study, originally presented in 2008, Pamela Goodwin, M.D. and colleagues, retrospectively looked at more than 500 women over a period of 11 years. What she and her colleagues found was that those women who had been deficient in vitamin D at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis were 73% more likely to die from breast cancer than those with sufficient vitamin D at the time of diagnosis. In addition those that were deficient in vitamin D at the time of their diagnosis of breast cancer were almost twice as likely to have recurrence or spread over those years.

My wife and I had the pleasure to listen to an interview of one of the authors of this article. Much to our shock and chagrin the author pointed out that because the study was retrospective they would never recommend that a woman newly diagnosed with breast cancer take more than the minimum daily requirement (RDA) of vitamin D. They specifically said that they would never recommend additional vitamin D until more randomized placebo-controlled prospective studies were done. This will take an additional 5 to 10 years.

When I presented this information to my staff of mostly women they too were shocked that in light of the data the researcher was not recommending newly diagnosed breast cancer patients take additional vitamin D. In my own practice of medicine, I have never had a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient who came to me for integrative medicine support of her breast cancer diagnosis, have a vitamin D level measured by her oncologist. What is wrong with this picture?

In Part 3 of this article, we will look at another important study about Vitamin D and cancer.