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A study released by Canadian researchers on May 15, 2008 sheds new light on the possible link between vitamin D and breast cancer survival rates.

Dr. Pamela Goodwin, a breast cancer researcher at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, led the study, which will be presented at the end of May at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.  The findings suggest that women with lower levels of vitamin D have a greater risk of death from breast cancer and a greater chance of having their cancer spread than those with normal levels of the vitamin. Conversely, those women with higher levels of vitamin D were more likely to have their cancer not spread or not return at all.

Vitamin D levels can be checked with blood tests and steps can be taken to improve those levels.

Maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D, believed to be between 80 and 120 nanomoles per liter of blood, may also help women regulate insulin levels and body mass indexes, which could help them to maintain a healthy weight and stronger bones. 

Vitamin D can be found in many foods, including milk, and in nutritional supplements.  Exposure to sunlight prompts the body to produce the vitamin, also.  Daily recommendations for vitamin D are, on average, 1,000 international units (IU).

The effect of vitamin D on breast cancer is promising and will continue to be studied.    

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