Low vitamin D levels common among cancer patients
Patients being treated for cancer have been found to lack adequate vitamin D levels. According to scientists presenting the findings at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), low vitamin D levels were also linked to more advanced cancer in a new investigation.
The researchers for the current study are following whether replacing vitamin D could improve cancer outcomes.
Investigators first studied characteristics of cancer related to vitamin D levels among patients in a Northeast Radiation Oncology Center in Dunmore, Pa.; then provided supplements to patients who were deficient or had insufficient levels.
Study seeks to understand vitamin D levels related to cancer outcomes
Thomas Churilla, lead author of the study and a medical student at the Commonwealth Medical College, Scranton, Pa., said, "Until recently, studies have not investigated whether vitamin D has an impact on the prognosis or course of cancer. Researchers are just starting to examine how vitamin D may impact specific features of cancer, such as the stage or extent of tumor spread, prognosis, recurrence or relapse of disease, and even sub-types of cancer"
The most common cancers studied among the patients were breast, prostate, lung, thyroid and colorectal cancer.
Seventy-seven percent of patients with advanced cancer with low vitamin D
The study found 77 percent of patients with advanced forms of cancer were either deficient in vitamin D or had sub-optimal levels – defined as less than 20 ng/mL and 20-30 ng/mL respectively.
"The benefits of vitamin D outside of improving bone health are controversial, yet there are various levels of evidence to support that vitamin D has a role in either the prevention or the prediction of outcome of cancer," Churilla said. "Further study is needed to continue to understand the relationship between vitamin D and cancer."
In the study, patients were given vitamin D supplementation, increasing levels by an average of 14.9 ng/mL. The study authors are continuing their research into the effect of replacing vitamin D on cancer outcomes. The study found vitamin D levels that were the lowest were associated with more advanced cancer in the group studied.
Image credit :Morguefile