Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center have revealed that women with breast cancer are likely to have low levels of vitamin D, which could contribute to decreased bone mass and greater risk of fractures.
In a study of 166 women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, nearly 70 percent had low levels of vitamin D in their blood, according to the study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's Breast Cancer Symposium in San Francisco.
The analysis showed women with late-stage disease and non-Caucasian women had even lower levels.
"Vitamin D is essential to maintaining bone health, and women with breast cancer have accelerated bone loss due to the nature of hormone therapy and chemotherapy. It's important for women and their doctors to work together to boost their vitamin D intake," said Luke Peppone, Ph.D., research assistant professor of Radiation Oncology, at Rochester's James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.
Scientists funded by the NCI analyzed vitamin D levels in each woman, and the average level was 27 nanograms per milliliter; more than two-thirds of the women had vitamin deficiency. Weekly supplementation with high doses of vitamin D -- 50,000 international units or more -- improved the levels, according to Peppone's study.