Vitamin d as a potential preventive agent for young women's breast cancer

Sarah M. Bernhardt, Virginia F. Borges, Pepper Schedin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Clinical studies backed by research in animal models suggest that vitamin D may protect against the development of breast cancer, implicating vitamin D as a promising candidate for breast cancer prevention. However, despite clear preclinical evidence showing protective roles for vitamin D, broadly targeted clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation have yielded conflicting findings, highlighting the complexity of translating preclinical data to efficacy in humans. While vitamin D supplementation targeted to high-risk populations is a strategy anticipated to increase prevention efficacy, a complimentary approach is to target transient, developmental windows of elevated breast cancer risk. Postpartum mammary gland involution represents a developmental window of increased breast cancer promotion that may be poised for vitamin D supplementation. Targeting the window of involution with short-term vitamin D intervention may offer a simple, cost-effective approach for the prevention of breast cancers that develop postpartum. In this review, we highlight epidemiologic and preclinical studies linking vitamin D deficiency with breast cancer development. We discuss the underlying mechanisms through which vitamin D deficiency contributes to cancer development, with an emphasis on the anti-inflammatory activity of vitamin D.We also discuss current evidence for vitamin D as an immunotherapeutic agent and the potential for vitamin D as a preventative strategy for young woman's breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-838
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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