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Vitamin D Fights Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer, Lung Cancer and Lymphoma - Study

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By David Liu, PHD

Tuesday Aug 28, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study in Cancer Causes and Control suggests that maintaining a high level of serum vitamin D may help fight a variety of malignancies including breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer and lymphoma. Previous studies suggest taking vitamin D supplements may fight prostate cancer as well.

The current study included 658 patients with breast cancer (n = 251), colon cancer (n = 52), lung cancer (n = 210), and lymphoma (n = 145), who were registered to JANUS, a population-based serum bank in Norway. All cancers were diagnosed between 1984 and 2004 and patients were followed for death throughout 2008.  During the follow-up, 399 patients died of whom 343 or 86 percent died from cancer.

For the study, blood samples were collected within 90 days of cancer diagnosis and were analyzed for 25-OHD or 25-hydroxyvitamin D.  Serum vitamin D levels were then investigated to see if they were associated with risk of death or mortality among these Norwegian cancer patients.

After adjustment for gender, age at diagnosis, and season of blood sampling, patients with 25-OHD levels below 46 nmol/L at diagnosis were at higher risk for shorter survival, compared to those who had a higher vitamin D level. 

Patients with their serum vitamin D (25-OHD) in the highest quartile were 64 percent less likely to die from cancer, compared to those with their serum vitamin D levels in the lowest quartile.

The association between vitamin D levels and survival odds was observed for all four cancers - breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer and lymphoma.

The researchers concluded "Higher circulating serum levels of 25-OHD were positively associated with the survival for cancers of the breast, colon, lung, and lymphoma."

The study was conducted by S. Tretli of Institute of Population-based Cancer Research in Majorstuen, Oslo, Norway and colleagues.

According to Vitamin D Council, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of 17 types of cancers including breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and lymphoma.

Tretli et al. reported in 2009 in British Journal of Cancer that prostate cancer patients with medium or high levels of serum vitamin D were 67 or 84 percent more likely to have a better prognosis, compared to those who had low serum vitamin D levels.

In this study, the serum level of 25(OH)D at <50 nmol/L was defined as low, 50-80 nmol/L as medium and at >80 nmol/L as high.

Tretli et al. also reported in 2004 in Cancer Causes and Control that a high level of vitamin d3 at the time of diagnosis and after treatment, may improve prognosis of breast cancer, colon cancer or prostate cancer.

Breast cancer and prostate cancer are expected to be diagnosed in about 230,000 women and 230,000 men respectively, according to the National Cancer Institute.  These cancers in many cases are preventable by following a healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet.

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