Exploring the Link Between Breast Cancer and Osteoporosis

Vitamin D written down in script printingIs there an association between breast cancer, vitamin D deficiency, and osteoporosis? A team led by researchers in Doha, Qatar and the United Kingdom set out to answer this question in a study.

The study, “The role of vitamin D deficiency and osteoporosis in breast cancer,” was published online ahead of print in December 2012. It appears in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases.

To explore the associations between breast cancer, osteoporosis, vitamin D, and calcium intake, the researchers conducted a hospital-based observational cohort study. A total of 635 patients with breast cancer were included in the sample.

Data was collected regarding the patients’ socio-demographic factors, menopause status, lifestyle habits, dietary behaviors, bone mineral density, vitamin D levels, and other aspects of their medical history. Forty percent of the women included in the study were premenopausal women. Dietary behaviors included patients’ consumption of dairy products and other foods, including seafood, milk, yogurt, and cheese.

The results of the study showed that nearly 32% of the patients with breast cancer were also living with osteoporosis or osteopenia. Vitamin D deficiency and severe vitamin D insufficiency were found to be higher in the participants who were post-menopause, compared to women who had not reached menopause.

Additionally, the results suggested a relationship between physical activity levels and vitamin D deficiency: lower levels of physical activity (defined as engaging in less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day) were linked with vitamin D deficiency and osteoporosis. Women’s dietary habits also played a role in their vitamin D levels.

The study authors conclude that their results demonstrate a higher prevalence of osteoporosis and vitamin D deficiency in patients with breast cancer. They argue that this may be linked to a lower dietary intake of vitamin D and calcium among women with breast cancer.

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