MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — More than three-quarters of cancer patients have insufficient levels of vitamin D, and the lowest levels are associated with more advanced cancer, according to a study presented Oct. 2 at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology.
“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 subtypes of cancer,” stated Thomas Churilla, lead author of the study and a medical student at the Commonwealth Medical College, Scranton, Pa.
The study involved 160 patients with a median age of 64 years split evenly between men and women. The five most common primary diagnoses were breast, prostate, lung, thyroid and colorectal cancer. A total of 77% of patients had vitamin D concentrations either deficient (less than 20 ng/mL) or suboptimal (20-30 ng/mL). The median serum vitamin D level was 23.5 ng/mL. Regardless of the age or sex of the patient, levels of vitamin D were below the median predicted for advanced stage disease in the patient group.
Patients who were found to be vitamin D deficient were administered replacement therapy, increasing serum D levels by an average of 14.9 ng/mL. Investigators will be analyzing if vitamin D supplementation had an impact on aspects of treatment or survival in the long-term.
“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.”
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