Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. One out of eight women will develop it during her lifetime, and because of that, doctors have made a lot of progress in treating it.
If caught early, there are several life-saving options, and doctors are continuing to look even earlier.
"We're focusing on prevention now. We have two medications that are approved by the FDA to be used in high risk women to reduce their risk of breast cancer. The problem is there are side effects to those medications, and only one of them can we use in women before menopause. Sometimes medications are the way to go, but we'd like something safer," said Dr. Jayne Charlamb, the Upstate University Hospital Breast Cancer High Risk Program Director.
That's why 200 hospitals across the country are studying whether vitamin D could reduce a woman's risk for developing Breast Cancer.
"Our bodies typically don't get a lot of sunshine, our bodies typically don't make enough vitamin D. So it's something everyone should at least be mindful of and talk to their health care providers about supplementing. So we're not talking about a scary medication here," said Charlamb.
The study will start with a mammogram to act as a baseline. Then one group of women will be given a high dose of vitamin D once a week. The other group will get a traditional dose on a daily basis. And the end of a year, there will be another mammogram to measure the results.
"We'll be looking at her breast density sort of as a marker of her risk of breast cancer and also obviously following for any risk of breast cancer," said Charlamb.
While doctors will follow patients for at least a year, it will be several years before the findings are published. However, researchers are optimistic.