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Vitamin D May Boost Lymphoma Survival

By Jimmy Downs


Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to elevated risk of a variety of cancers.   A new study found patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma who had a healthy level of vitamin D in their blood live longer.


Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a group of cancers that occur at any age and are often marked by enlarged lymph nodes, fever and weight loss.


The disease is diagnosed in 65,000 people and kills 19,500 annually in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute.


Matthew Drake, MD, PhD and colleagues of the Mayo Clinic found patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) who had low vitamin D levels were two times more likely to die from the cancer than patients with optimal levels.


DLBCL is the most common type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which often occurs in adults.


Vitamin D deficiency was also found to be associated with increased chances of cancer progression.


The study involved 374 patients who were newly diagnosed with DLBCL and their blood samples were tested and half were found to be vitamin D deficient.


Vitamin D deficiency is defined as having less than 25 nanograms per milliliter of the total vitamin D in the blood.


The scientists found those who suffered vitamin D deficiency were 1.5 times more likely to have the cancer progression and twice more likely to die from this type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.


Vitamin D has been linked to as many as 17 types of cancers, according to the Vitamin D Council.


Vitamin D is synthesized when the skin is exposed to sunshine, which is the best source for this nutrient. 


Foods high in vitamin D are rare, but include mushrooms, fatty fish and fortified foods and beverages. Vitamin D supplements may be the best option for food consumers who work indoors.


The study was  presented this week at the 51st annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in New Orleans.