Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 is associated with decreased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer in whites: a nested case-control study in the multiethnic cohort study

BMC Cancer. 2014 Jan 17;14:29. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-14-29.


Background: Higher sunlight exposure is correlated with lower incidence of breast cancer in ecological studies, but findings from prospective studies regarding the association of circulating levels of vitamin D with the risk of breast cancer have been null. The objective of this study was to examine the relation between plasma levels of vitamin D and the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.

Methods: We conducted a nested case-control study within the Multiethnic Cohort Study of five race/ethnic groups (white, African-American, Native Hawaiian, Japanese, and Latino) from Hawaii and Los Angeles between 2001 and 2006. Pre-diagnostic plasma levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 [25(OH)D2], 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D3] and 25(OH)D (sum of 25(OH)D2 and 25(OH)D3) were examined among 707 postmenopausal breast cancer cases and matched controls.

Results: Using conditional logistic regression models, 20 ng/mL increases of plasma 25(OH)D3 (odds ratio (OR) 0.28; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.14-0.56) and 25(OH)D (OR 0.43; 95% CI 0.23-0.80) were inversely associated with breast cancer risk among white women, but not among women in other race/ethnic groups. Using two-segmented, piecewise-linear logistic regression models, the change-points of the ORs, either for 25(OH)D3 or for 25(OH)D, were detected as 20 ng/mL among whites.

Conclusions: Circulating 25(OH)D3 and 25(OH)D were associated with a reduced risk of postmenopausal breast cancer among whites, but not in other ethnic groups, who reside in low latitude regions.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • 25-Hydroxyvitamin D 2 / blood
  • African Americans
  • Aged
  • Asian Americans
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Calcifediol / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Female
  • Hawaii / epidemiology
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Japan / ethnology
  • Logistic Models
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group
  • Odds Ratio
  • Postmenopause / blood*
  • Postmenopause / ethnology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sunlight


  • Biomarkers
  • 25-Hydroxyvitamin D 2
  • Calcifediol