The link between Vitamin D deficiency, breast cancer, and breast cancer recurrence is not new. But now Vitamin D has actually been shown to kill breast cancer cells.
I was so intrigued by what I read, I had to get on the phone with the clinical investigator myself, especially since I, and most of the women I know with breast cancer have a Vitamin D deficiency, and I hear it more and more.
JoEllen Welsh, PhD, a professor at GenNYsis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics in Albany, NY, has studied Vitamin D and breast cancer for 30 years, but for the first time, has incubated fresh human samples with Vitamin D. She took samples of early and late stage tumors, those with and without receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and HER2.
“Within days, half the cells shriveled and died in every tumor,” she said.
“Eighty percent of people have a vitamin D receptor, and if they have a tumor with this receptor it has potential to respond to Vitamin D, just as estrogen-positive breast cancer responds to tamoxifen,” says Welsh.
Vitamin D actually becomes a hormone in the body, meaning it is transmitted through the blood to any and or all tissue.
Five human samples were tested, reflecting the following types and stages of breast cancer:
- Stage IIIC ER and PR Negative
- Stage IIIA HER2 Negative
- Stage I ER and HER2 Negative
- Stage IIA ER PR and HER Positive
- Stage IIIC Triple Negative
Currently Welsh is doing genetic engineering in mice to understand the mechanisms that trigger a response.
“For example, we need to look at what levels you need? Is there a difference in how it works on triple negative breast cancer? Does it work in the presence of tamoxifen? What if the tumor has a BRCA mutation? Answering these questions is how we can predict who is most likely to benefit from optimal Vitamin D status,” says Welsh.
Caution: If you have breast cancer, you shouldn’t take vitamin D in place of your treatment medications. Talk to your physician for more advice about taking supplements.Rachel Pappas is breast cancer survivor. She is the founder of www.1UpOnCancer.com. And the author of Hopping Roller Coasters, which tells the story of her and her daughter, both diagnosed with bipolar disorder.