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Low vitamin D levels common among cancer patients

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

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"

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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



I wonder if the problem is even worse for Black cancer patients? I saw an article not long ago about how that Blacks were more prone toward vitamin D deficiency due to their pigmentation blocking the sun's rays.
Interesting point Tim. In this study, there was no mention that I found regarding race or other ethnicity.