Vitamin D may play an important role in a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer or of developing a more aggressive form of the disease, according to new research from the United Kingdom. A team of London doctors reported that women with certain natural variations in the VDR (vitamin D receptor) gene had nearly twice the risk of developing breast cancer, a disease that affects more than 10 percent of women in the United Kingdom (Clinical Cancer Research, 2004, vol. 10, no. 16).

Although researchers have not established what role vitamin D plays in preventing breast cancer, this study helps to identify risk factors in breast cancer patients with no family history of the disease. Researchers hope the information can help identify women at greater risk for breast cancer, as well as new treatments for those with the VDR variant who are diagnosed with the disease.