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Vitamin D May Raise Survival Rates Among Cancer Patients

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 04 May 2014
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Cancer patients who have higher levels of vitamin D when they are diagnosed are inclined to have better survival rates and remain in remission longer than patients who are vitamin D-deficient, according to new research.

The findings are scheduled for publication in the July 2014 issue of the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). The body naturally produces vitamin D after exposure to sunlight and absorbs it from specific foods. Vitamin D affects a variety of biologic mechanisms by binding to a protein called a vitamin D receptor, in addition to helping the body absorb the calcium and phosphorus required for healthy bones. This receptor is present in nearly every cell in the body.

“By reviewing studies that collectively examined vitamin D levels in 17,332 cancer patients, our analysis demonstrated that vitamin D levels are linked to better outcomes in several types of cancer,” said one of the study’s authors, Hui Wang, MD, PhD, a professor of the Institute for Nutritional Sciences at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Shanghai, China). “The results suggest vitamin D may influence the prognosis for people with breast cancer, colorectal cancer and lymphoma, in particular.”

The meta-analysis looked at the findings of 25 individual studies that measured vitamin D levels in cancer patients at the time of diagnosis and monitored survival rates. In most of the research, patients had their vitamin D levels tested before they underwent any treatment for cancer. The study found a 10 nmol/L increase in vitamin D levels was tied to a 4% increase in survival among cancer patients.

Researchers found the strongest association between vitamin D levels and survival in breast cancer, lymphoma and colorectal cancer. There was less evidence of a connection in people with Merkel cell carcinoma, lung cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, or melanoma but the available results were positive.

“Considering that vitamin D deficiency is a widespread issue all over the world, it is important to ensure that everyone has sufficient levels of this important nutrient,” Dr. Wang concluded. “Physicians need to pay close attention to vitamin D levels in people who have been diagnosed with cancer.”

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Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences

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