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TODAY’S HEADLINE STORY: Why the Women’s Health Initiative Didn’t Tell the Truth About Vitamin D and Breast Cancer

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

A study claiming that higher vitamin D levels — discredited last year as a flawed model to address the subject — has resurfaced in news reports this week, some of which are not including the evidence that discredits the study.

The Women’s Health Initiative — a study of 36,000 postmenopausal women on many different topics — suggest that vitamin D does not lower breast cancer risk, UCLA Oncologist Dr. Rowan T. Chlebowski reported at a Breast Cancer Symposium.

2008-09-12-flawed-study-copy.jpgBut the press coverage of Chlebowski’s comments neglected to mention that the study itself was flawed. Women in the study were only given 400 international units of vitamin D — levels now considered much too low to make an impact.

“The vitamin D community now realizes that 1,000 units or more are needed to significantly raise vitamin D levels and that 400 units, as given in this study, wouldn’t really do anything,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “Press accounts on Chlebowski’s talk seem to be missing that crucial point.”

Several large studies have shown that women with high vitamin D levels have significantly lower risk of breast cancer — an association which is bolstered by research showing the mechanism by which vitamin D regulates cell growth in breast cells. “They understand the mechanism, and they have established an association. So the latest round of press on this topic should be taken in that context,” Levy said.