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Black women who want to protect themselves against breast cancer may soon be able to turn to vitamin D to help them fight against the disease, researchers say.

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A recent study published in Breast Cancer Research claims that there are genetic variations in vitamin D and vitamin D receptors between African-American women and American women of European ancestry, according to recent report.

Without getting too technical, the genetic variations in the Vitamin D receptor and its enzyme, CYP24A1, which is responsible for the deactivation of the nutrient, are linked to the higher chance of breast cancer for black women.

The Roswell Park researchers found that by adjusting the level of that enzyme, the risk of breast cancer for black women could be reduced.

The study was conducted on nearly 1,800 black and white women.

The study reports:

“If these potential associations were to be consistently observed in future studies, our results would support a public health effort for vitamin D supplementation to reduce risk of aggressive breast cancer among AA women.”

The link between vitamin D intake and cancer prevention dates back to the 1940s when Dr. Frank Apperley showed a correlation between populations with the highest geographical proximity to sun exposure and deaths from cancer, and suggested that sunlight helped provide a relative cancer immunity.

Since then, there have been numerous studies suggesting a link between lower risks of certain cancers and vitamin D.

However, this recent study is not definitive yet. The results merely suggest vitamin D’s benefits. And though exposure to sunlight is one way to increase vitamin D intact, there are obvious skin-related concerns (ie., sunburn, melanomas) to consider.

Drinking more milk may seem like the most obvious way to get adequate amounts of vitamin D as well. Still, P.B. Cancer Institute oncology nurse practitioner Robin Stevens told CBS Miami News last year about vitamin D’s health benefits that you’d have to drinks lots of it.

Supplements or cod liver oil is the greatest source of vitamin D, Stevens said.


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Brett Johnson is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based writer and the founder of the music and culture blog


Can Vitamin D Reduce Black Women’s Breast Cancer Risk?  was originally published on