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Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to More Aggressive Breast Cancers
Date:4/29/2011

FRIDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer patients with low levels of vitamin D have more aggressive tumors and poorer outcomes, a new study finds.

Experts say the new findings support what many oncologists have long suspected.

"There has been suspicion that vitamin D is related to breast health in some way, although the particular pathway is still unknown," noted Dr. Laurie Kirstein, a breast surgeon at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. "Many oncologists are already following vitamin D levels in their breast cancer patients, and recommending supplements for low levels," added Kirstein, who was not involved in the new study. "To link vitamin D levels to the aggressiveness of a particular type of breast cancer is an interesting finding; one that should be validated with a controlled trial."

In the study, to be presented Friday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, a team from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) tracked 155 women who had surgery for breast cancer between January 2009 and September 2010.

The team examined blood tests that provided vitamin D levels for all the patients in the one-year period before and after surgery. They also analyzed relevant patient breast cancer data, such as age, race, cancer stage at diagnosis, menopause status, gene expression, and estrogen and progesterone status.

The researchers found an association between low vitamin D levels (less than 32 milligrams per milliliter of blood) and poor scores on every major biological marker used to predict a breast cancer patient's outcome.

"The magnitude of the findings was quite surprising," lead researcher Luke J. Peppone, research assistant professor of radiation oncology, said in a URMC news release. "Based on these results, doctors should strongly consider monitoring vitamin D levels among breast cancer patients and correcting them as needed."

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