October 7, 2015

Director's Letter
Carole Baggerly
Director, GrassrootsHealth 

As you know, I am a breast cancer survivor (sometimes I say I'm a breast cancer treatment survivor). While the cancer is gone, the trauma of the treatments will have a detrimental effect on my health for the rest of my life. If only there had been someone with knowledge and information who could have taken me aside when I was in my 30s or 40s or 50s and shared with me the importance of vitamin D. Shortly after my diagnosis, I discovered my vitamin D level was 18 ng/ml. What if I knew then what I know now and had started supplementing and getting more sun at 40, or earlier, would I have gotten breast cancer? We can never know for sure what may have been different, but our research says that my risk would have been reduced by 50-80%. No one can go back and tell the younger me about vitamin D, but I can help spread the word to others today; and I hope that you will take the opportunity to spread the word as well.
Could you change the life of a woman you know? Would you like to? We have launched D*parties to do just that. We provide you with all the materials to host some women in your house. I challenge our readers to have 100 D*parties  focused on breast cancer. What effect would that have in your communities? In the world?

We appreciate you, our D*action members and followers. Without you, this research would not be possible.

With sincere thanks,

Carole Baggerly
Director, GrassrootsHealth
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization
Moving Research into Practice NOW!
Help Fight Breast Cancer
Goal:  100 D*parties
Will you be one?

Have you considered helping the fight against breast cancer? Have some friends over and show a video about vitamin D and breast cancer. Introduce these friends to our breast cancer study and D*action. Your work could change the lives of those you invite. Everyone who joins has the opportunity to learn more about their own health and vitamin D.  And, the information shared is helping guide public health policy.
The success of GrassrootsHealth has largely been a result of people telling their friends and family, their colleagues and club members, anyone they can think of about the importance of vitamin D and the importance of having your level tested. Since 2009, anyone who has participated in D*action by completing a questionnaire and vitamin D test has learned about their personal vitamin D levels and also helped increase our collective knowledge on vitamin D and cancer.

The D*party is a new way to spread the word, to get involved, and to tell your friends you care about their health and well-being.
Feature Story
Higher vitamin D levels may lower cancer risk  

As we mentioned in last week's newsletter, a clinical trial led by Joan Lappe, PhD, RN, FAAN, at Crieghton University found that women given vitamin D and calcium were diagnosed with 80% fewer cases of non-skin cancer than women who received a placebo. GrassrootsHealth was given access to the data from the Lappe trial to compare it to the D*action data and run an analysis of vitamin D serum levels with respect to non-skin cancer.  
Click to View Larger 
As our readers know, the D*action cohort has an overall average serum 25(OH)D of 43 ng/ml, certainly higher than the general population. For the sub-group of women aged 55+ (to match the Lappe trial criteria), the average is slightly higher, 48 ng/ml. The Lappe cohort, on the other hand, better reflects general population levels with an average serum 25(OH)D of 30 ng/ml. By comparing data from the two cohorts, we are able to look at differences in a greater range of serum concentrations than is available in either cohort alone.

In the Lappe cohort, the cancer incidence rate was 11.3 per 1,000 person-years, by comparison, the D*action cohort has a cancer rate of 4.6 per 1,000 person-years, almost 60% lower than the Lappe cohort. Even after accounting for differences in age, smoking, and BMI distribution between the cohorts, the magnitude of reduction did not change.  

Stay tuned this month for more results about the association between 25(OH)D and risk of cancer, how that risk changes across the 25(OH)D spectrum, and what we've found regarding breast cancer specifically.
How to Prevent
Breast Cancer
by Cedric F. Garland, Dr, PH, FACE 

Although it afflicts 232,000 American women each year and kills 40,000 (1), breast cancer is among the 2nd or 3rd most readily preventable cancers (2-4).Other ways to reduce risk of breast cancer include avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol. For women the safe limit is no more than 1.5 4-ounce glasses of wine, 12 ounce glasses of beer or cocktails per 24 hours (7). 
Approximately 75% of breast cancer (adenocarcinoma) is due to vitamin D deficiency (Table 1). There are also other known causes, the most influential of which are BRCA and a few rare alleles of other genes (5).


While adequate vitamin D status will prevent 75% of breast cancer (Table 2), it also makes breakthrough cases much less life-threatening and easier to treat (6). Patients with higher serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations have a milder form of the disease with substantially better chance of long-term survival.The average dose of vitamin D3 needed to achieve specified serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvutamin D are shown in Table 3.


Still other gains may be achieved by minimizing x-ray exposures that may penetrate the breast epithelium directly or due to scattering from bones or teeth. A recent study indicated that mammographic screening should be obtained no more than once every 2 years. Women who are less than 50 years old also should consider deferring their first mammogram to age 50 unless there are certain risk factors present. This decision should be discussed thoroughly with the individual's physician.
For women with BRCA 1-2 or CDH1 mutations, the only known method of prevention, sadly, is prophylactic mastectomy. This is the approach used by Angelina Jolie who was BRCA positive and had close relatives with breast cancer. Research is needed to determine whether vitamin D might reduce the need for prophylactic mastectomy in women with these mutations.


Breast cancer is one of the easiest of all cancers to prevent. But it requires devotion to consuming an adequate amount of vitamin D3 and testing your serum 25(OH)D concentration faithfully, especially in February or March of each year. Discuss your plan with your doctor, and bring them on board concerning your quest to minimize risk of breast cancer. Any up-to-date well-informed doctor will admire what you are doing, and can help you consume adequate vitamin D while avoiding any needless risk.
Editor's Letter
Susan Siljander
Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth

There are so many ways to get the word out in this day and age. Just 100 years ago, we would have had to catch each other in the street as we did our daily shopping. Now what can we do?
  • Post on Facebook - preferably with some emojis and a cute picture
  • Tweet it
  • Send an email - and now we can send one email to a whole group, thus saving time writing to everyone individually
  • Text - oh, here the cute emojis are important again
  • Call - not as efficient, but more personal
  • See someone in person
  • Send a letter - yes, we can still do that...
What is your favorite mode of sharing information?

GrassrootsHealth can also provide a kit for you to use if you want to have people over to talk about vitamin D. We will give you tools to advertise, handouts, help consult which video to show, and send some test kits for those that want to join after your presentation. Find out more about our D*party initiative.

Have a great week!

Susan Siljander
Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization  
Moving Research into Practice NOW!
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All the latest research and news on breast cancer prevention

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GrassrootsHealth has launched a breast cancer prevention project. Watch this video to learn more.

Click here to sign up.

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Results from our Breast Cancer study show vitamin D levels > 50 ng/ml may provide additional reduction in breast cancer risk.


Cartoonist who can help us put vitamin D education into cartoons.

Open to any US woman, 18 years or older, at 12-17 weeks of pregnancy

D*certified Practitioners

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Breast Cancer Poster Presentation

Findings from GrassrootsHealth Breast Cancer Study

Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial
Joan Lappe

Vitamin D Supplement Doses and Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D in the Range Associated with Cancer Prevention
Cedric F. Garland
Christine B. French
Leo L. Baggerly
Robert P. Heaney

Cited Sources from Dr. Garland

(1) American Cancer Society. Cancer facts and figures 2015. Atlanta: ACS, 2015, p. 4.

(2) Garland CF, Garland FC, Gorham ED, et al. The role of vitamin D in cancer prevention. American Journal of Public Health 2006; 96(2): 252-261.

(3) Garland CF, Gorham ED, Mohr SB, et al. Vitamin D for cancer prevention: global perspective. Annals of Epidemiology 2009;19(7):468-83.

(4) Lowe LC, Guy M, Mansi J et al. Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, vitamin D receptor genotype and breast cancer risk in a UK Caucasian population. European Journal of Cancer 2005;41:1164-1169.

(5) Karami F, Mehdipour P. A Comprehensive Focus on Global Spectrum of BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutations in Breast Cancer. Biomed Res Int. 2013; 2013: 928562.
(6) Mohr S, Gorham ED, Kim J, et al. Meta-analysis of vitamin D sufficiency for improving survival of patients with breast cancer.Anticancer Research 2014; 34: 1163-1166.
(7) Chen WY, Rosner B, Hankinson SE et al, Moderate Alcohol Consumption During Adult Life,
Drinking patterns and breast cancer
JAMA 2011; 306 (17): 1884-1890.

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