Low vitamin D may be factor in lower breast cancer survival for those diagnosed after menopause

Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and postmenopausal breast cancer survival: A prospective patient cohort study
– Source: Breast Cancer Research, Jul 26, 2011

By Alina Vrieling, et al.

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Introduction: Vitamin D has been postulated to be involved in cancer prognosis. Thus far, only two studies reported on its association with recurrence and survival after breast cancer diagnosis yielding inconsistent results. Therefore, the aim of our study was to assess the effect of post-diagnostic serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations on overall survival and distant disease-free survival.

Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study in Germany including 1,295 incident postmenopausal breast cancer patients aged 50-74 years.

Patients were diagnosed between 2002 and 2005 and median follow-up was 5.8 years.

Cox proportional hazards models were stratified by age at diagnosis and season of blood collection and adjusted for other prognostic factors. Fractional polynomials were used to assess the true dose-response relation for 25(OH)D.


Lower concentrations of 25(OH)D were linearly associated with higher risk of death (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.08 per 10 nmol/L decrement; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.00 to 1.17) and significantly higher risk of distant recurrence (HR = 1.14 per 10 nmol/L decrement; 95%CI, 1.05 to 1.24).

Compared with the highest tertile (55 nmol/L), patients within the lowest tertile (35 nmol/L) of 25(OH)D had a HR for overall survival of 1.55 (95%CI, 1.00 to 2.39) and a HR for distant disease-free survival of 2.09 (95%CI, 1.29 to 3.41). [Note: a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.0 would represent no difference in risk between groups. The HR of 1.55, for example, indicates a 55% increase in overall odds of overall survival for patients with vitamin D at 55 nmol/L or higher, versus those with the lowest levels of D.]

In addition, the association with overall survival was found to be statistically significant only for 25(OH)D levels of blood samples collected before start of chemotherapy but not for that of samples taken after start of chemotherapy (P for interaction = 0.06).

Conclusions: In conclusion, lower serum 25(OH)D concentrations may be associated with poorer overall survival and distant disease-free survival in postmenopausal breast cancer patients.

Source: Breast Cancer Research, Jul 26, 2011. doi:10.1186/bcr2920, by Vrieling A, Hein R, Abbas S, Schneeweiss A, Flesch-Janys D, Chang-Claude J. Division of Cancer Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg; PMV Research Group at the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Cologne; Section Gynecological Oncology, National Center for Tumor Diseases, University Hospital Heidelberg; Department of Cancer Epidemiology/Clinical Cancer Registry, University Cancer Center Hamburg (UCCH) and Department of Medical Biometrics and Epidemiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany. [Email:  a.vrieling@dkfz-heidelberg.de]

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One thought on “Low vitamin D may be factor in lower breast cancer survival for those diagnosed after menopause”

  1. happydancer says:

    Thank you for the article. A similar trend was found in dialysis patients. Patients that were waiting on a transplant were found to have decreased amounts of serum Vitamin D. I think we are finding out more and more how Vitamin D plays an overall significant role in well being.

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