Low vitamin D linked with breast cancer

By Shayna Brouker • Published: December 27th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The bevy of benefits of the “sunshine drug” vitamin D range from preventing osteoporosis to boosting immunity… and the list keeps growing as researchers discover more ways it helps maintain health.

One of this vital vitamin’s primary roles is enabling the body to absorb calcium for strong bones. It is especially important for women to ward off osteoporosis, and now scientists have found one more reason to dose up on vitamin D.

A study of one hundred and seven women diagnosed with breast cancer found that vitamin D deficiency, especially in African Americans, was associated with an aggressive form of the disease. Sixty percent of African-American women in the study had vitamin D deficiencies, compared with just fifteen percent of white women.

African-American women are at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiencies because dark skin doesn’t absorb sunlight well, one of the primary ways to get the vitamin. Our bodies produce this vitamin in response to sunshine. Likewise, African-American children face a higher risk for developing rickets, a disease caused by low vitamin D levels.

They’re not alone… recent reports show three-quarters of teens and adults in the United States have low levels of vitamin D, too.

Just fifteen to thirty minutes of exposure to sunlight is enough to get your daily dose, but this method carries the risk of skin cancer.

So what are some other ways you can stock up on this super supplement? Look for vitamin D-enriched foods, like cereal and orange juice. It’s found in very few foods naturally, but eggs, milk and salmon all boast a sufficient supply. Or consider taking a supplement in pill form.

If nothing else, heed your mother’s advice. Drink your milk!