Vitamin D Deficiency And Breast Cancer

Nov 30, 2022
Vitamin D Deficiency And Breast Cancer
Hello, Warriors! Welcome to The Breast Place blog and thank you for taking time out of your active schedule to visit! We appreciate our readers to the utmost degree, as we do our patients.

Hello, Warriors! Welcome to The Breast Place blog and thank you for taking time out of your active schedule to visit! We appreciate our readers to the utmost degree, as we do our patients. If this is your first visit to The Breast Place blog, we welcome you. We cover a range of topics here. From breast cancer management to anti-aging skin treatments to helpful tips for maximizing your overall health and wellness—The Breast Place is committed to sharing the best health practices and treatment options with you! Our offices are open and our staff is prepared to answer any questions you may have about your health, your breast cancer risk, and how to reach your aesthetic goals. 

At The Breast Place, we offer several oncoplastic surgical procedures, such as natural reconstruction, nipple-sparing mastectomy, Hidden Scar™, implant reconstruction, and breast lift with or without reduction. Oncoplastic surgery is distinct from both breast cancer surgery and plastic surgery–though you initially assume oncoplastic surgery to be a mixture of both. Rather, the aim of oncoplastic breast surgery is “to achieve good aesthetic outcomes for women with breast cancers who would have unacceptable outcomes with other BCS techniques, and in addition, enable breast-conserving surgery for larger breast cancers.” While breast cancer surgery prioritizes the eradication of cancerous tissue and plastic surgery prioritizes the cosmetic appearance of the breasts, oncoplastic surgery takes both of these aspects into account when planning for the final outcome. You can find out more information about what to look for in an Oncoplastic surgeon here. 

In our last blog, we discussed the Keto diet, which has risen in popularity recently. However, it’s actually been around since the 1920s! The ketogenic diet, commonly referred to as the keto diet or simply keto, is a low-carb and high-fat diet. We discussed a brief history of the diet, as well as what it consists of, what you can eat on the diet, and how to get started. If you are interested in learning more about the Keto diet, we encourage you to check out our last post!

Before we continue with today’s topic, we’d like to make you aware of what we have to offer at The Breast Place this upcoming month. November is coming to a close, which means December is right around the corner! This month, we are offering new specials every week! For the first week of the month, you can enjoy 10% off Active Peel by iS Clinical, a treatment that resurfaces and polishes the skin. During the second week of December, we’re offering 10% off EltaMD skin care products! The third week, score 10% off HydraCool Serum, which hydrates and soothes the skin. And finally, throughout the last week of December, we’re offering 10% off Extreme Protect sunscreen from iS Clinical! Don’t miss out on these deals. These products will make great holiday gifts for yourself or a loved one!

Today, we’ll be talking about the link between vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer. This is a link that you may find surprising, but it is one that continues to be researched. So far, research has suggested that women with low levels of vitamin D may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. We’ll be delving into this idea further and discussing steps you can take to minimize your risk. If you are interested in learning more, you’re in the right place. Let’s get started!

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D, also known as calciferol, is a fat-soluble vitamin. Fat-soluble means that it dissolves in fat and is stored in tissue. Vitamins that are fat-soluble are absorbed and transported in a manner similar to that of fats. Vitamin D is known to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus, which both play a critical role in building bones. It also provides better resistance to certain diseases. It plays a role in the nervous system, immune system, and musculoskeletal system. Your body can produce vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It is then stored in fat and released when sunlight is not available. Besides exposure to the sun, vitamin D can be found in a small amount of foods, such as fortified milk, fatty fish, and eggs, or in supplements. As people tend to spend less time outside, or are wearing sunscreen when exposed to sunlight, natural vitamin D production is limited. With that being said, we do not recommend skipping the sunscreen. (We touched on this in a previous blog about caring for your skin.) Instead, vitamin D supplements can be helpful! 

Vitamin D deficiency is common– In fact, about 1 billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency. This can lead to issues with the muscles and bones. Anyone can have vitamin D deficiency, but it may be more common in people who have darker skin, due to the high melanin content. Certain medications can also cause this deficiency, such as steroids or laxatives, as well as medical conditions, including Crohn’s disease, obesity, and kidney disease. Some symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in adults are fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness, muscle aches or cramps, and mood changes, such as depression. However, some people show no symptoms. 

2016 study showed that there was an association between vitamin D levels and the expression of ID1, a protein coding gene known as an oncogene, that has been associated with tumor growth and metastasis in breast cancer and other cancer types. Researchers theorize that this is because vitamin D is converted into the hormone calcitriol in several different body tissues, including breast tissue. Calcitriol binds to the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which is a transcription factor that regulates the expression of more than 900 genes. Some of these genes are associated with cancer. Therefore, vitamin D may play a role in controlling breast cell growth, and may be able to stop cancer cells from growing. Another study found that women with the highest levels of vitamin D had a 45% decrease in breast cancer risk, compared with those who had the lowest levels of vitamin D in their blood. In 2017, a study of 1666 women with breast cancer found that women with higher vitamin D levels at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis had better survival rates. 

It is important to note that the findings from different studies about the link between vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer are mixed. This is because it is difficult to study vitamin D with measures of sunlight exposure and diet, and it is hard to measure sunlight exposure as a whole. It is also worth noting that variants within your VDR may influence vitamin D’s ability to prevent diseases such as cancer, regardless of the level in your blood. 

Steps You Can Take

If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, you should speak with a medical provider. Typically, vitamin D levels can be checked with simple blood work. If your blood work determines your levels are low, your doctor will likely speak to you about supplements to keep your vitamin D within normal range. Normal vitamin D levels within the blood for adults are 20 ng/ml or above. While taking a vitamin D supplement is generally safe for most people, please keep in mind that it is best to speak with a healthcare provider before taking any type of supplements. There is some debate about how much vitamin D the body needs. The Reference Daily Intake (RDI) is currently 600-800 IU of vitamin D for adults. However, some people may need heavier doses to reach and maintain adequate blood levels. 

The most effective ways to increase your vitamin D intake is by getting more sunshine exposure or taking supplements. Certain types of clothing, such as long sleeves, or the use of sunscreen can hinder or completely block vitamin D production. As mentioned previously, it is vital to protect yourself from skin cancer by avoiding overexposure to sunlight and using sunscreen. However, it takes very little sun exposure for your body to start producing vitamin D. As little as 8 minutes of sun exposure is enough time to produce vitamin D for most individuals. However, those with darker skin tones may need more time. 

If you’d prefer to get your vitamin D intake from your diet, there are a few options. Some seafood, including fatty fish, are rich in vitamin D. This includes:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters
  • Shrimp
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies

The exact vitamin D content of fatty fish and seafood may vary depending on the type and source. However, many of these foods are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have many benefits for your body and brain!

If seafood isn’t your thing, or isn’t part of your diet, there is a vegetarian source of vitamin D: Mushrooms! Interestingly enough, mushrooms make their own vitamin D with exposure to UV light, just like humans. Vitamin D content will depend on the type of mushroom. Other foods that contain vitamin D include egg yolks and fortified foods such as cow’s milk, orange juice, certain types of yogurt, tofu, ready-to-eat cereals, and plant-based milk alternatives.

Once again, if you are concerned about your vitamin D levels or your risk of developing breast cancer, we encourage you to speak with a medical professional. We hope you found this article informative, and we encourage you to reach out if you have any further questions or concerns. Here at The Breast Place, we are dedicated to providing services and education surrounding breast health. We offer breast imaging services and provide consultations, clinical breast exams, and dedicated treatment plans. We also encourage you to check out our aesthetics and wellness clinic, Empower, which is dedicated to helping you feel more confident in your skin. Empower offers injectable treatments such as Botox, Juvéderm, and Dysport, as well as other facial rejuvenation services such as laser treatment and more! Additionally, we strongly encourage you to reach out to us for a consultation if you have any questions or concerns pertaining to our service areas– We are committed to empowering women, and we are proud to offer treatments and products to help you look and feel your best. Thank you for taking the time to read today’s article and we hope you’ll check back in for future posts about treatments, wellness, and more!