Rhoden receives NCI funding to research vitamin D, breast cancer link

February 4, 2020

Can vitamin D influence the link between a group of unhealthy chemicals and breast cancer?

Joyce Rhoden

Joyce Rhoden

With new funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), doctoral student Joyce Rhoden will  investigate that exact question.

Rhoden is in her fourth year with the Department of Epidemiology at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. The F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award, which will deliver $111,126 over the next three years, will fund her dissertation work.

“The title of my dissertation is ‘Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), Vitamin D and Breast Cancer,’” Rhodes says. “The project will explore the relationship between PAHs — chemicals released from activities like burning coal, trash and wood — and breast cancer incidence and survival. I also want to see if the association between PAHs and breast cancer changes with measured vitamin D levels and individual variation in genes related to vitamin D.”

The award became active in January 2020.

“I hope the results of my dissertation work will help us learn more about the complex relationship between a very common environmental pollutant and breast cancer,” Rhoden says. “There have been numerous studies about the effects of vitamin D on various cancer types. I hope this study will further our understanding of the demonstrated protective effects of vitamin D as they relate to breast cancer and environmental toxins.”

Contact the Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@unc.edu.

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