By now, you’ve probably heard about the numerous benefits of vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin.” From calcium absorption to immune function to protecting your bone, muscle, and heart health—vitamin D influences a lot of areas in your body’s health. And yet, researchers estimate that at least 1 billion people globally are deficient in this crucial vitamin.
One area that you may not realize vitamin d impacts includes your risk for developing breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the deadliest cancers for women, as one of the most common causes for cancer-related deaths in 98 countries. Research suggests that low levels of vitamin D may be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, as it may play a role in controlling normal breast cell growth and help prevent breast cancer cells from growing.
According to a 2016 study using mouse models of human breast cancer and breast cancer cell lines, researchers observed an association between vitamin D levels and the expression of ID1, an oncogene linked to tumor growth and metastasis in breast cancer and other cancer types.
“A number of large studies have looked for an association between vitamin D levels and cancer outcomes, and the findings have been mixed,” said Brian J. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., of the Stanford University School of Medicine. “Our study identifies how low levels of vitamin D circulating in the blood may play a mechanistic role in promoting breast cancer growth and metastasis.”
The study was published on March 2, 2016 in Endocrinology.
How to increase your vitamin D intake
There are a number of ways to boost your body’s vitamin D consumption including:
- Increased sun exposure (at least 15 minutes, 3 times a week)
- Consider taking a D3 supplement
- Eat more foods rich in vitamin D, including salmon, milk, orange juice, soy milk