Mumbai: Over two lakh women in India face the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer every year over the next decade, according to a study here.
It is estimated that the number of fresh cases of breast cancer in India will increase from the current 1,45,000 to around 2,14,000 per year over the next ten or more years.
Breast cancer is an unforgiving disease that reportedly kills more than five lakh women every year across the globe.
According to Globocan data (International Agency for Research on Cancer), India is on top of the table with 1.85 million years of healthy life lost due to breast cancer.
'Healthy life lost' is defined by years lost due to premature death and being incapacitated by the effects of breast cancer.
The study said that breast cancer risk can be significantly decreased by maintaining optimal vitamin D levels. Breast cancer and the likelihood of developing it is not an inevitable risk dictated purely by chance, as latest science on the subject reveals that vitamin D deficiency may be a major causative factor in breast cancer development.
Like many other cells in the body, breast tissue cells bear special surface receptors that are designed to absorb vitamin D. When this pro-hormone attaches itself to these receptors, it essentially instructs breast cells how to behave, including how to divide and replicate in a healthy manner.
Conversely, this same mechanistic action is believed to help protect breast cells against malignant mutations.
"There are vitamin D receptors in breast tissue, and vitamin D can bind to these receptors. This can cause cells like oncogenes to die or stop growing, and can stop the cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body.
Therefore, it is thought that vitamin D may help in protecting against breast cancer, by making cells in the breast smarter," says the Vitamin D Council, a non-profit organisation in USA working to educate public on vitamin D, sun exposure and health.
The most effective cure for breast cancer, in other
words, is to avoid developing it in the first place, something that may be achieved by consistently maintaining high blood levels of vitamin D.
A growing body of evidence suggests that there is a dose-response relationship between vitamin D and breast cancer risk, meaning that the higher one's vitamin D level is, the lower her risk of developing breast cancer.
Recent official data from the Population Based Cancer Registry shows that breast cancer accounts for about 30 per cent of all cancers amongst women in Mumbai - 2000 to 2500 new cases of breast cancer are detected every year in Mumbai, and the number is ever rising.
A few decades back, breast cancer was much more common after age of 50 years, and the numbers of young women suffering from this disease were fewer - almost 65 to 70 per cent patients were above 50 years and only 30 to 35 per cent women were below fifty years of age.
However, presently, breast cancer is more common in the younger age group and 50 percent of all women suffering from breast cancer in Mumbai are below 50 years of age.
For those women who already have breast cancer, or who were previously diagnosed with breast cancer, the scientific literature suggests that vitamin D is beneficial for them as well. Though no actual studies have been conducted on Vitamin D as a sole treatment for cancer, studies looking at Vitamin D levels among breast cancer patients are quite revealing as to the medicinal potential of this powerful pro-hormone.
"In a review of studies, researchers found that women with breast cancer who had low vitamin D levels had more than doubled the risk of their cancer coming back, and an almost doubled risk of death compared to women with high vitamin D levels," Vitamin D Council said.