Vitamin D and calcium do not prevent breast cancer

March 3, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

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Here is another study from the Women’s Health Initiative that gives disappointing results. At least disappointing for those who are big fans of vitamins and other dietary supplements.

Previous studies suggested that vitamin D supplements may lead to a reduction in breast cancer risk. The current research by UCLA researchers looked at 36,282 postmenopausal women who were randomly assigned to two groups. One group took a pill containing 1,000 mg of calcium plus 400 IU of vitamin D every day while the other group took placebo which was identical in appearance to the vitamin pill. This way, the participants were not aware which drug they were taking. The study was originally designed to study the effects of supplements, especially calcium on the incidence of hip fractures. Fractures due to osteoporosis are quite common among women of postmenopausal age and calcium supplements are prescribed as primary care preventive measure. Vitamin D is also known to contribute to bone health and prevent rickets.

Unfortunately, the main findings of the study say

Calcium and vitamin D supplementation did not reduce invasive breast cancer incidence in postmenopausal women. In addition, 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were not associated with subsequent breast cancer risk. These findings do not support a relationship between total vitamin D intake and 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels with breast cancer risk.

This wasn’t the first disappointing news regarding vitamin supplementation and cancer. Late last year, the National Cancer Institute prematurely stopped the SELECT trial which investigated the efficacy of selenium and Vitamin E in preventing prostate cancer – with negative results.

There have been many reports that vitamins and other nutritional supplements do not necessarily give us health benefits. Many health experts discourage the use of supplements with the exception perhaps of vitamin D. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, revised its guidelines last year to double the dose of vitamin D supplements for children to prevent vitamin D deficiency and rickets. This is in addition to the fact that baby formula and milk products in the US are fortified with vitamin D.

Recent research studies are putting a question mark on the benefits of vitamin supplementation and the current study also puts to doubt the necessity of vitamin D supplements, which taken in excessive amounts, can actually be toxic.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) has compiled some facts and figures on supplementation, as given below:

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4 Responses to “Vitamin D and calcium do not prevent breast cancer”
  1. diep says:

    Thanks for debunking the myth about vitamin D and calcium. So much mis-information surrounds the subject of breast cancer (all the pink ribbons not withstanding). I recently got diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. I hope and pray every day that more people do their part to help make a world for our daughters to live free of this disease. Thanks again for helping make that dream more of a reality.

  2. HIFU says:

    pca is indeed a major deterent for men to visit a doctor. once diagnosed they should presented with all options for treatment. Its prostate cancer awareness month and a great reason to get people checked up.

  3. don morrison says:

    I really liked your blog! if you have more information elsehwere let me know.

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