Vitamin D Benefits Breast Cancer Patients With Joint Pain

Vitamin D Breast Cancer Treatment Study

A new study shows that high dose vitamin D breast cancer treatment alleviates joint and muscle pain for many breast cancer patients taking estrogen lowering medications. The study was conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis).

The estrogen lowering medications (aromatase inhibitors), are frequently given to shrink breast tumors induced by the hormone estrogen and help thwart cancer reappearance. These inhibitors are not as toxic chemotherapy, but for more than 50% of breast cancer patients, the medications tend to create relentless discomfort with muscles and joints.

Because the inhibitors reduce cancer reappearance, doctors found disappointing numbers of patients that stopped taking the medicine because of the extreme discomfort experienced. To combat this issue, doctors scrambled to find help in order to get patients to remain on them long-term.

Aromatase inhibitors are prescribed to post menopausal breast cancer patients for at least 5 years to help stave off reoccurrence, sometimes longer. There is some confirmation that patients who experience the medications side effects are less prone to see their cancer revisit and that is why there was/is more motivation to help these patients continue taking the inhibitors.

During a study to create relief a professor of radiation oncology at the university that patients on these inhibitors who suffered from joint pain and muscle pain found some reprieve by taking high doses of vitamin D.

60 patients experiencing the side-effects participated (many showed low vitamin D levels). 50% of participants were randomly assigned to be given the recommended daily dose of vitamin D (400 units) and a 50,000-unit vitamin D capsule each 7 days. The other 50% received the daily dose of vitamin D and a placebo each week. In addition to the Vitamin D breast cancer treatment, participating patients received 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily during the study.

The results were showing that many of the patients not receiving placebo were helped. The study was supported by Astra-Zeneca, which makes the aromatase inhibitor anastrozole (brand name Arimidex). Of course many considerations were taken and overall the testing was a success.