Serum Vitamin D Status and Breast Cancer Risk by Receptor Status: A Systematic Review

Nutr Cancer. 2018 Jul;70(5):804-820. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2018.1470653. Epub 2018 May 21.


Background: The association between vitamin D status and breast cancer risk is equivocal. No systematic reviews or meta-analyses have examined this association stratified by receptor status. Our objective is to conduct a systematic review to answer the question, "Is there a relationship between lower serum/plasma vitamin D levels and increased risk of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) specifically?"

Methods: We systematically searched Embase and PubMed databases for published original research studies examining the risk of a breast cancer diagnosis according to vitamin D status. We excluded studies that did not provide risk estimates stratified by receptor status.

Results: Fourteen studies met our criteria, including case-control, nested case-control, and case-series studies, reflecting the cumulative results of 13,135 breast cancer cases. When grouped by relevancy to TNBC, the proportion of analyses across all study types showing a significant association between vitamin D status and breast cancer diagnosis was 37% for non-TNBC analyses, 48% for analyses that included some TNBC cases, and 88% for TNBC analyses.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that low vitamin D status may particularly increase the risk of TNBC, although more research is needed to determine if this association is causative. Women should be routinely screened for 25(OH)D deficiency.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Limit of Detection
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Vitamin D / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood


  • Vitamin D