Vitamin D has anticarcinogenic properties, but a relationship between vitamin D supplement use and breast cancer is not established. Few studies have accounted for changes in supplement use over time or evaluated racial-ethnic differences.
The Sister Study is a prospective cohort of 50,884 women with 35–74 years of age who had a sister with breast cancer, but no breast cancer themselves at enrollment (2003–2009). We used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between vitamin D supplement use and incident breast cancer (3,502 cases; median follow-up 10.5 years).
Vitamin D supplement use was common, with 64% reporting ever use (at least once per month) in the year before enrollment. Considering supplement use over time, ever use of vitamin D supplements was not meaningfully associated with breast cancer (HR = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.88, 1.0), relative to never use. However, after adjusting for prior use, recent use of vitamin D supplements ≥1/month was inversely associated with breast cancer (HR = 0.88, 95% CI = 0.78, 1.0), relative to nonrecent use. The inverse association was stronger for ductal carcinoma in situ (HR = 0.67, 95% CI = 0.52, 0.87) than invasive breast cancer (HR = 0.94, 95% CI = 0.72, 1.1, p-for-heterogeneity = 0.02). Supplement use was less common among African American/Black (56%) and non-Black Hispanic/Latina (50%) women than non-Hispanic White women (66%), but there was limited evidence of racial-ethnic differences in HRs (p-for-heterogeneity = 0.16 for ever use, P = 0.55 for recent).
Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that recent vitamin D use is inversely associated with breast cancer risk.