Every year, approximately a quarter-million new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the United States. About 12 percent of all American women will develop some form of breast cancer during their lifetime; roughly one out of every eight will have to undergo some form of cancer treatment.
Battling any form of cancer takes a serious toll. The cancer is rough, and so are the drugs and radiation used to combat it. In the case of breast cancer, specifically, treatment options often call for the use of specialized drugs designed to lower estrogen levels. These are known to cause severe joint and muscle pain in about half of all the women who take them.
According to Dr. Antonella L. Rastelli, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, these side effects are so unpleasant that many women stop taking their medication and potentially compromise their chances of recovery .
Dr. Rastelli and her cohorts recruited 60 breast cancer patients who were using anastrozole, (one of the few US approved drugs for lowering estrogen levels in such patients) and had previously reported the associated joint and muscle pain. All 60 were also shown to have low vitamin D blood-serum levels during the initial screening process.
Participants were randomly placed into one of two groups. Members of both groups were given the standard recommended amounts of 400IU of vitamin D, and 1,000IU of calcium, daily. Participants in the experimental group were also given an additional large 50,000IU serving of vitamin D once a week. Members of the control group were administered a weekly placebo.
Using a series of questionnaires, researchers were able to gauge individual response to the treatment. Their findings suggest that most patients taking estrogen reducers benefit from noticeable pain reduction while supplementing with large servings of vitamin D.
Even in healthy individuals, vitamin D is known to promote natural bone, joint and muscle health. As with all nutritional supplementation, it’s important to use a high-quality product that’s free of hidden toxins and readily absorbed by the body.
- Julia Evangelou Strait. Vitamin D relieves joint, muscle pain for breast cancer patients. Washington University in St. Louis. 2011 June.