Background: Ecological studies have suggested that vitamin D production through UV solar irradiance could reduce breast cancer (BC) risk. Although studies restricted to dietary vitamin D intake have provided inconsistent results, little is known about the relationship between pre and postmenopausal BC and combined intakes from diet, supplements and sun exposure.
Methods: Cox proportional hazards regression mvaluated the association between vitamin D intakes, mean daily Ultraviolet Radiation dose (UVRd) at the place of residence and risk of BC among 67,721 women of the French E3N cohort. All analyses were stratified on menopausal status taking into account important confounders including calcium consumption.
Results: During 10 years of follow-up, a total of 2,871 BC cases were diagnosed. Dietary and supplemental vitamin D intakes were not associated with BC risk.
However, in regions with the highest UVRd, postmenopausal women with high dietary or supplemental vitamin D intake had a significantly lower BC risk as compared to women with the lowest vitamin D intake (HR = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.54 – 0.85, and HR = 0.55, 95% CI: 0.36 – 0.90 respectively). [Note: an HR of 1.0 would indicate no difference in BC risk. The HR of 0.68 signifies 32% greater risk among women living in areas with the greatest sun exposure but whose dietary vitamin D intake is low.]
Conclusions: Our results suggest that:
• A threshold of vitamin D exposure from both sun and diet is required to prevent BC
• And this threshold is particularly difficult to reach in postmenopausal women at northern latitudes where quality of sunlight is too poor for adequate vitamin D production.
Impact: Prospective studies should further investigate associations between BC risk, vitamin D status and sunlight exposure.
Source: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, Dec 2, 2010. PMID: 21127286, by Engel P, Fagherazzi G, Mesrine S, Boutron-Ruault MC, Clavel-Chapelon F. Nutrition, Hormones and Cancer, Inserm (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale) and Institut Gustave Roussy.