It's time to bask in the sunlight, ladies. A new study published in the Breast Cancer Research Journal revealed that vitamin D could benefit Black women most when it comes to keeping breast cancer cells from growing.
Scientists at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute looked at vitamin D levels in women without breast cancer and found that African-American women were almost six times more likely to have severe deficiencies than European-American women. A closer look later indicated that Black women who did have high levels of vitamin D had genetic variations in the vitamin D receptor that cut their breast cancer risk in half.
"Our results show that these genetic variations, which contribute to the function of vitamin D, are strongly associated with ER-negative breast cancer and may contribute to the more aggressive breast cancer features seen in African-American women," said Song Yao, Ph.D., one of the authors of the study.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly a third of African-Americans are deficient in vitamin D — one factor that could play into this is skin pigmentation. Ninety percent of our daily requirement can be obtained through sun exposure, but our dark skin hinders our cell's ability to produce the vitamin D we need. If you think you might be deficient in vitamin D, talk with your doctor about supplements and fortified foods.
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