Triple Negative Breast Cancer and Vitamin D

August 12, 2011

Breast Cancer Risk and Vitamin D 

Reference:  Song Yao PLOS, 2011

 Competency Vitamin D The very worst kind of breast cancer is so-called “triple-negative” or TN.  It has no receptors for estrogen, progesterone or the HER2 gene that make for sensitivity to endocrine manipulation.  That makes for more aggressive cancer.  The Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program meetings last week came up with some interesting papers on that topic.  

Dr. Song Yao from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute presented a fascinating look at women with breast cancer and compared their cancers to their vitamin D levels, and TN type cancers. Now, Vit D is essentially your “grow up and become mature” hormone that tells stem cells to become mature cells.  A mature cell does three things: it stops dividing, it does its function and it goes through natural cell death.  Each of those functions is the opposite of cancer.  Knowing that basic function, you can understand why Vitamin D has so many disparate beneficial effects.  It seems to affect every organ and body system favorably, as it should if it made stem cells grow up in every tissue.  Even plankton in the ocean uses Vit. D to initiate cell division and maturation.   A cancer cell never grows up, keeps dividing, and never does its function.   

Vitamin D should be, by all accounts, a cancer preventative. So, what would you expect Dr. Yao to discover in his exploration of Vit D and breast cancer?   Well, first of all, in comparing African American women to Caucasian American women, he found lower D levels in the African Americans.  Darker skin makes for slower D production so no surprises there.  And who would you guess would have the more aggressive cancer?  You got it, the African American women.  And comparing women with cancer to those without, what would the levels of D be?  Again, those with cancer averaged a D level of 22 ng, and those without had 26.  But those with the most aggressive Triple Negative cancer before menopause had D levels averaging 16 ng.   For every 10 ng rise in serum Vit D level, there was a calculated 64% reduction in Triple-Negative cancer risk. 

 Let me say that again.  There was an inverse relationship between Vitamin D and aggressive breast cancer risk.  And Vitamin D could be the explanation for why African American women have such aggressive cancers.  The question remains, could this be just the first study to clearly demonstrate the racial disparities in health outcomes we see in the African American community?  What about premature babies and mortality? How about hypertension and diabetes?  Each of those illnesses or conditions have a Vitamin D documented risk. This isn’t hard science.  It’s observed associations.  Proof in its final form requires a randomized trial.  But explain to me the risk of raising your D level to normal when it’s just a natural substance, not a drug, with no toxicity below 100 ng. 

 WWW.  What will work for me?  I’m on 10 k a day of D.  My blood level is 80.  I intend to stay there.  My African American friends know that, and hopefully, their blood level is up there too.  Time to treat Vit D like a life-saving, inexpensive anti-cancer drug.  If you know someone who isn’t on it, please give them the gift of life, a bottle of D.   Wrap it in a pink ribbon, would ya. 

 Written by John Whitcomb MD Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160 262-784-5300