Apart from maintaining healthy bones, higher levels of vitamin D in the blood may also significantly improve survival in one-third of women diagnosed with breast cancer -- the most common form of cancer in women, a study has found.
A deficiency in the vitamin D levels -- commonly found in sun exposure, fatty fish oils, vitamin supplements, and fortified milks and cereals -- has been associated with the risk for several cancers, the study said.
"We found that women with the highest levels of vitamin D levels had about a 30 per cent better likelihood of survival than women with the lowest levels," said Lawrence H. Kushi, Research Scientist with the Kaiser Permanente -- a not-for-profit health care company in California, US.
This study adds to the evidence that vitamin D may play a key role in cancer prevention and prognosis and is also an important nutrient, Kushi added.
Accoring to researchers, the link between vitamin D and breast cancer may be related to the vitamin role in promoting normal mammary-cell development, and inhibiting the reproduction of and promoting the death of cancer cells.
In the study, the team included 1,666 participants who had a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer in 2006 to examine whether levels of a blood biomarker of Vitamin D - 25-hydroxyvitamin D (250HD) - at the time of breast cancer diagnosis were associated with survival.
Higher 250HD blood levels were associated with better overall survival. In premenopausal women, the association of higher blood levels of 250HD and overall survival was stronger.
The study was published online in the journal JAMA Oncology.
(With agency inputs)