British study first to show increased levels may prevent disease
Women who increase their intake of vitamin D may help boost their body's ability to fight breast cancer, a new British study says. Researchers at the University of Birmingham and St. George's Hospital, London, add that their report is the first to show how improved levels of vitamin D may help prevent breast cancer.
It was previously believed that calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D and a potent anti-cancer agent, was made only in the kidney. But this study found breast tissue also contains the enzyme that activates vitamin D and increased levels of the enzyme were found in breast tumors. The researchers believe this ability to activate vitamin D is part of the breast's natural immune response to a tumor.
"Our work shows that the breast has its own local 'factory' for generating the anti-cancer form of vitamin D. Unfortunately, women who live in cloudy countries like the U.K. may not have enough of the raw material, vitamin D, to fuel this factory," research leader Dr. Martin Hewison says in a prepared statement. "Exposure to sunlight is the most efficient way of generating vitamin D in our bodies, but we all know the dangers of sunbathing.
Perhaps now it's time to look at improving our dietary intake through fortification of more foods with vitamin D," Hewison says. The study was presented March 23 at the 23rd Joint Meeting of the British Endocrine Societies with the European Federation of Endocrine Societies in Brighton, England.
More information: The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer: http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/wyntk/breast
Source: Health Day News (online at www.healthday.com)