Point Reyes Station scientist Kathie Dalessandri has found that Vitamin D may be a key to discovering why Marin County women have one of the highest breast cancer rates in the world, a new study has shown. The Journal of the American College of Surgeons reported that Dr. Dalessandri and her colleagues found that cells from 338 Marin women reflect variations associated with breast cancer risk. While results must be confirmed through a larger study, Dr. Dalessandri said, women who were at a high risk for breast cancer were 1.9 times more likely to possess a specific vitamin D receptor variation. “In this age of personalized genomics, it is important to consider potential genetic, environmental, and nutritional interactions with regard to sporadic breast cancer risk,” Dr. Dalessandri wrote in her conclusion. “Targeted vitamin D supplementation can be important because modifiable risk factors can influence prevention strategies in these higher-risk individuals.” Dr. Dalessandri has been swamped by national press since publishing her study, and was unavailable for comment. However, in a brief interview while awaiting an NBC news crew, she told the Marin Independent Journal that it was too soon to tell what level of Vitamin D could help combat the disease, noting that “toxicity is associated with high levels” of the vitamin. Ten years ago, Marin’s breast cancer rate was 7 percent higher than the rest of the Bay Area, 9 percent higher than Los Angeles, and 18 percent higher than the nation’s—home to the one of the highest incidences in the world, along with Australia, France, Great Britain and parts of Scandinavia.