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Vitamin D May Help Alleviate Pain of Breast Cancer Treatment

Aromatase inhibitors are commonly prescribed to shrink breast cancer tumors. The issue with this treatment is that it is frequently accompanied by severe musculoskeletal pain, at times so unbearable that patients choose to discontinue use of the medication.

A recent study suggests that vitamin D may provide pain relief for patients using aromatase inhibitors.

The study was conducted at Washington University School of Medicine and was published in the August 2011 issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

The researchers worked with 60 post-menopausal women who were receiving aromatase inhibitors for treatment of breast cancer. All of them also had low levels of vitamin D. The women were randomly assigned to two groups, with one group receiving 400 international units (IU) per day of vitamin D combined with a weekly 50,000 IU dose and the other group receiving the same daily dose and a weekly placebo.

Additionally, the groups were split into sections based on how low the participants baseline vitamin D levels were. The lower level group took either the 50,000 IU dose weekly for 16 weeks and then monthly for 2 months or a placebo. The higher level group received the dose weekly for 8 weeks and then monthly for 4 months or a placebo.

Levels of pain were assessed using the Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form (BPI-SF), the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), and the Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI). Pain levels were measured at baseline, after two months, four months, and six months. At the conclusion of the study, both groups receiving the high doses of vitamin D reported lowered muscle and joint pain levels when compared to the placebo groups.

Vitamin D, commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin,” has been linked to numerous health benefits, including improved cognitive health, reductions in skin cancer, combating diabetes, improved cardiovascular health, combating measles, and improving age related vision loss.

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