By: Jennifer Jope for Uterus1
A glass of milk and a walk in the bright sunshine might help younger women lower their risk of breast cancer, according to recent research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
|While we can get vitamin D from commonplace foods like eggs and cheese, there are some other options you may want to try to reach your vitamin D requirement:|
3.5 oz. cooked mackerel
1 ¾ oz. drained sardines in oil
1 Tbsp. cod liver oil
1 Tbsp. fortified margarine
Pudding made with a mix and vitamin D-fortified milk
Researchers found that a lower risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women was linked with a higher intake of vitamin D and calcium. Animal studies show that calcium and vitamin D have anti-carcinogenic effects; however, study authors note that human research has been inconclusive. This recent study followed more than 10,000 premenopausal women and more than 20,000 postmenopausal women who were at least 45 years of age and free of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Over the course of a 10-year follow-up period, 276 premenopausal women and 743 postmenopausal women developed breast cancer.
“Higher intakes of total calcium and vitamin D were moderately associated with a lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer,” the study’s authors said.
The researchers surmised that the difference in cancer rates between pre- and post-menopausal women may be related to the calcium, vitamin D and “insulin-like growth factors.”
While this is good news for premenopausal women, there is some hope for post-menopausal women who are striving to get enough vitamin D in their diet. According to the Iowa Women’s Health study that was published in Cancer Causes & Control in June, postmenopausal women who consume more than 800 IU a day of vitamin D may see a small decrease in their risk of developing breast cancer.
Both studies concede that more research is necessary to link a higher vitamin D intake to a lower risk of breast cancer. Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements acknowledges that studies have been done to show a link between vitamin D and lower cancer rates, but they say it is premature to prescribe vitamin D as a breast cancer prevention method.
Although this warning is prudent, the human body does need a certain amount of vitamin D to function. If the studies’ results prove to be true, then getting enough vitamin D is even more important. So, how can we get enough vitamin D in our bodies? There are several sources. Food is one of the easiest ways to get your vitamin D requirement. While milk is fortified with the vitamin, the National Institutes of Health also recommend eating egg, tuna fish and swiss cheese. There are many other foods that contain vitamin D, but these are some of the simplest and most readily-available sources.
Sun exposure is another well-known way to increase vitamin D consumption. It is important to realize, though, that where you live affects the amount of vitamin D you take in from the sun. According to the National Institutes of Health, there is not enough sunlight from November to February in Boston (and similar climates) to receive enough vitamin D.
For a woman between the ages of 19 and 50, the NIH states that 200IU of vitamin D is adequate, while a woman aged 51 to 70 should consume 400IU. Women older than 70 should get 600IU of vitamin D each day. These daily requirements are intended to maintain regular bone health and calcium metabolism in the average woman.
Remember that these studies are pointing women toward new cancer prevention strategies, but you should still talk to your doctor about what is right for you.