30 July, 2021

Having a low level of vitamin D is linked with breast cancer. Making sure you have a healthy level of Vitamin D is a great way to stay well and may reduce your risk of breast cancer. Read our tips on how you can top up your Vitamin D.

What is Vitamin D, and how do we get it?

Vitamin D is naturally present in some foods (e.g. oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, and egg yolks), added to others (e.g. breakfast cereals and non-dairy milk), and available as a dietary supplement.

But your main source of vitamin D is sunlight. When the sun’s rays interact with the skin, vitamin D synthesis is triggered.

Vitamin D is a nutrient you need for good health. It helps the body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks for strong bones.

How could it lower breast cancer risk?

In some studies, vitamin D has been found to slow or prevent the development of breast cancer. It also has anti-inflammatory benefits and decreases oestrogen synthesis. It is also important for a properly functioning immune system and may help protect against cancer spreading.

How much should you have?

Your vitamin D level depends on several lifestyle habits, e.g. how much time you spend outdoors, what you eat, and what medications you take, but also on your age and skin type.

Most people in the northern hemisphere can make enough from being out in the sun daily for short periods with their forearms, hands, or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen, from late March to the end of September.

During winter and autumn, you need to get vitamin D from your diet because the sun is not strong enough for the body to make enough.

We recommend you get it from food sources rather than supplements, but if you can’t, consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D (400 IU).

Ensuring adequate levels of vitamin D could be beneficial in reducing breast cancer risk. To detect a deficiency, a laboratory blood test is necessary.

While you can’t get too much vitamin D through sunshine, you can get too much through supplements, leading to health problems.  Getting more than 4,000 IU per day (100 micrograms/day) increases the risk of harmful health effects, for example, kidney damage.

Making sure you have healthy levels of vitamin D is important for breast cancer prevention, but also good for your general.

BCUK recommends you be mindful about your levels and if you have any concerns get your levels checked by your GP, so you can determine if you need to take in more vitamin D either through sun exposure or if this isn’t possible through food or supplements.

Check out our Prevention Hub for my breast cancer prevention tips.

Our work is made possible by your generous donations.

A £10 donation today can help fund vital research and help us to reach more people with our prevention message.

Thank you.

References

  1. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin D. 2020. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/ [Accessed 5 Feb. 2021].
  2. NHS. How to get vitamin D from sunlight. NaN. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-get-vitamin-d-from-sunlight/ [Accessed 1 Feb. 2021].
  3. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin D. 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/ [Accessed 5 Feb. 2021].
  4. Atoum M. et al., 2017. Vitamin D and Breast Cancer: Latest Evidence and Future Steps. Breast cancer : basic and clinical research 11: 1178223417749816. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1178223417749816.
  5. Voutsadakis, I. A. et al., 2021. Vitamin D baseline levels at diagnosis of breast cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Hematology/oncology and stem cell therapy: 1 14: 16–26. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33002425/.
  6. Estébanez N. et al., 2018. Vitamin D Exposure and Risk of Breast Cancer: a meta-analysis. Scientific reports: 1 8: 9039. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-27297-1.
  7. McDonnell, S. L. et al., 2018. Breast cancer risk markedly lower with serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations ≥60 vs <20 ng/ml (150 vs 50 nmol/L): Pooled analysis of two randomized trials and a prospective cohort. PloS one: 6 13: e0199265. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29906273/.
  8. O’Brien, K. M. et al., 2017. Serum Vitamin D and Risk of Breast Cancer within Five Years. Environmental health perspectives: 7 125: 77004. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28728134/.
  9. Lukaszuk, J. M. et al., 2017. 25(OH)D status: Effect of D3 supplement. Obesity science & practice: 1 3: 99–105. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/osp4.85.
  10. Krishnan, A. V. et al., 2011. Mechanisms of the anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory actions of vitamin D. Annual review of pharmacology and toxicology 51: 311–336. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20936945/.
  11. Vuolo L. et al., 2012. Vitamin D and cancer. Frontiers in endocrinology 3: 58. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22649423/.
  12. Carlberg C. et al., 2020. An update on vitamin D signaling and cancer. Seminars in cancer biology. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1044579X20301140.
  13. NHS. Vitamins and minerals – Vitamin D – NHS. NaN. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/ [Accessed 9 Feb. 2021].
  14. Marcinowska-Suchowierska E. et al., 2018. Vitamin D Toxicity-A Clinical Perspective. Frontiers in endocrinology 9: 550. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6158375/.
  15. Harvard Health. Taking too much vitamin D can cloud its benefits and create health risks – Harvard Health. 2017. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/taking-too-much-vitamin-d-can-cloud-its-benefits-and-create-health-risks [Accessed 10 Jun. 2021].


Related Articles

19 February 2024

Salmon and pea pasta

This combination of savoury salmon, lemon zest and flavourful peas is the excitement your tastebuds have been missing. With this easy-to-follow recipe, you’ll be able to treat yourself to a...

Read full story

18 February 2024

I’d never been sick before breast cancer

It can be difficult to regain a sense of self after a breast cancer diagnosis. Even after receiving the long-awaited all-clear call from the doctor, finding your stride can take...

Read full story

15 February 2024

Welcoming our new ambassador – Michelle Ogundehin

Breast Cancer UK (BCUK) is pleased to welcome our new Ambassador, Michelle Ogundehin.  Michelle has been our fantastic supporter over the years, including blog writing and supporting various campaigns we...

Read full story

12 February 2024

4-ingredient healthy pancakes

It is indeed possible to make healthy pancakes, and if that wasn't enough to put a smile on your face, they can be made with just four ingredients! The simple...

Read full story
Professor Val Speirs

A £10 donation today can help fund our PHD studentships to carry out world-class animal free research into the causes of breast cancer.

 

Donate £10
Woman on zoom call

A donation of £30 can help fund our Prevention Hub so your loved ones can learn how to reduce their risk.

Donate £20
people holding up hearts

Your donation of £50 can fund our animal free research and educational programmes to prevent breast cancer for future generations.

Donate £50
women wearing breast cancer uk t shirt and blue jeans

Just want to help in some way? donate an amount that feels right for you

Start Your Donation

Donate Now

Make a Donation

Share:

My One Time Donation

I want to make a one time donation of

Thank you. You’re just a few steps away from completing your donation.

+25% with Gift Aid

If you are a UK taxpayer, the value of your gift can be increased by 25% under the Gift Aid scheme at no extra cost to you.

This means that your donation of £100.00 could be worth an extra £25.00 to us, and it doesn't cost you a penny!

My Monthly Donation

I want to make a monthly donation

You’re just a few steps away from completing your donation.

+25% with Gift Aid

If you are a UK taxpayer, the value of your gift can be increased by 25% under the Gift Aid scheme at no extra cost to you.

This means that your donation of £100.00 could be worth an extra £25.00 to us, and it doesn't cost you a penny!

One Time Donation Monthly Donation
Make a donation with Gift Aid

Gift Aid is reclaimed by the Breast Cancer UK from the tax that I pay for the current tax year. If I pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all my donations, it is my responsibility to pay any difference. Breast Cancer UK will reclaim 25p in tax back for every £1 I donate.

Your payment details

Your donation amount

Donation Allocation (Optional)

Additional Comments (Optional)

Stay in Touch

We’d love to keep you posted on how your support can make a difference to Breast Cancer UK and the exciting ways you can support us in the future.

Please tick if you’re happy to receive information from us by:

By completing an online donation, your data will be handled in accordance with the Breast Cancer UK’s privacy policy, and the privacy policy of our payment processing supplier BBMS (a Blackbaud company).

Thank You Wall

If you donate over £50, as a way of saying thank you for your donation, we would like to feature your donation on our virtual thank you wall on our website.

Donations will only feature on the wall for up to two months depending on the level of donations we receive.

You must fill out all required fields before paying.

Processing...

Need help making your donation?

If you need help to make a donation or have any questions about making one, please contact us…

Call 08456801322