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Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Aug 1;174(3):293-304. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr091. Epub 2011 Jun 9.

Ultraviolet sunlight exposure during adolescence and adulthood and breast cancer risk: a population-based case-control study among Ontario women.

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Prevention and Cancer Control, Cancer Care Ontario, Toronto, Canada.


Recent studies suggest that vitamin D may be associated with reduced breast cancer risk, but most studies have evaluated only dietary vitamin D intake. The associations among ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, factors related to cutaneous vitamin D production, and breast cancer risk were evaluated in a population-based case-control study conducted in Ontario, Canada, between 2003 and 2004 (n = 3,101 cases and n = 3,471 controls). Time spent outdoors was associated with reduced breast cancer risk during 4 periods of life (>21 vs. ≤6 hours/week age-adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 0.71, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.60, 0.85 in the teenage years; OR = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.53, 0.76 in the 20s-30s; OR = 0.74, 95% CI: 0.61, 0.88 in the 40s-50s; and OR = 0.50, 95% CI: 0.37, 0.66 in the 60s-74 years). Sun protection practices and ultraviolet radiation were not associated with breast cancer risk. A combined solar vitamin D score, including all the variables related to vitamin D production, was significantly associated with reduced breast cancer risk. These associations were not confounded or modified by menopausal status, dietary vitamin D intake, or physical activity. This study suggests that factors suggestive of increased cutaneous production of vitamin D are associated with reduced breast cancer risk.

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