Can vitamin D prevent/Cure cancers:

Can vitamin D prevent/Cure cancers:

In the previous sections, we have outlined the connection between vitamin D deficiency and cancers, alongside the uncertain nature of this connection. The question arises – Can vitamin D supplementation prevent, or even cure, cancer?

This proposal has been explored by numerous researchers, who conclude there is a biological rationale (Ingraham et al. 2008, Tagliabue et al. 2015). Vitamin D appears to modify how cells function in a preventative and even anti-cancer way (Ingraham et al. 2008), such as increasing cancer cell detection (Speer 2010). Early studies comparing vitamin D levels, sun exposure and cancer showed an association with higher vitamin D levels and decreased cancer (Ingraham et al. 2008, Speer 2010). Of the cancer types, the data suggests a particularly strong association in colorectal cancer (Theodoratou et al.2014).

Despite the biological rationale, the current data is inconclusive for the role vitamin D may play in either preventing or curing cancer. The picture appears mixed for almost all cancer types (Kennel & Drake 2013). Highlighting colorectal cancer as an example of this, one large meta-analysis in 2006 showed no change in outcomes based on vitamin D supplementation and cancer incidence (Wactawski-Wende et al.2006). Yet, another study found a possible connection between increased vitamin D and calcium intake with better colorectal cancer prognosis (Yang et al. 2014).

This inconclusiveness is partly due to study limitations preventing scientists from arriving at firm and repeatable outcomes (Kennel & Drake 2013), in addition to uncertainty regarding effective and toxic treatment doses (Tagliabue et al. 2015). Some researchers support vitamin D supplementation in spite of the above, given the cheap cost of vitamin D capsules and the biological rationale (Garland et al. 2006).

Irrespective of these findings, the evidence is clear that cancer and the various established treatment choices do negatively affect patient bone health (Kennel & Drake 2013). As such, cancer patients will benefit from preventative measures, which includes vitamin D supplementation.



Garland CF, Garland FC, Gorham ED, Lipkin M, Newmark H, Mohr SB, Holick MF. The role of vitamin D in cancer prevention. Am J Public Health. 2006 Feb;96(2):252-61.

Ingraham BA, Bragdon B, Nohe A. Molecular basis of the potential of vitamin D to prevent cancer. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 Jan;24(1):139-49.

Kennel KA, Drake MT. Vitamin D in the cancer patient. Curr Opin Support Palliat Care. 2013 Sep;7(3):272-7.

Speer G. The role of vitamin D in the prevention and the additional therapy of cancers.  Magy Onkol. 2010 Dec;54(4):303-14. [Article in Hungarian]

Tagliabue E, Raimondi S, Gandini S. Vitamin D, Cancer Risk, and Mortality. Adv Food Nutr Res. 2015;75:1-52. doi: 10.1016/bs.afnr.2015.06.003.

Theodoratou E, Tzoulaki I, Zgaga L, Ioannidis JP. Vitamin D and multiple health outcomes: umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies and randomised trials. BMJ. 2014 Apr 1;348:g2035.

Wactawski-Wende J, Kotchen JM, Anderson GL, Assaf AR, Brunner RL, O’Sullivan MJ et al.  Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and the risk of colorectal cancer. N Engl J Med. 2006 Feb 16;354(7):684-96.

Wranicz J, Szostak-Węgierek D. Health outcomes of vitamin D. Part II. Role in prevention of diseases. Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2014;65(4):273-9.

Yang B, McCullough ML, Gapstur SM, Jacobs EJ, Bostick RM, Fedirko V et al. Calcium, vitamin D, dairy products, and mortality among colorectal cancer survivors: the Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition Cohort. J Clin Oncol. 2014 Aug 1;32(22):2335-43.


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Best wishes,

Vitdcancer team.

Cancer and Vitamin D Excess: Why & How?

Cancer and Vitamin D Excess: Why & How?

Some cancers can increase the levels of active vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxy-D) in the blood. Examples include blood cell cancers (Hodgkin’s & Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) and ovarian tumours (Ovarian Dysgerminoma (Tebben et al. 2016).

In healthy people, the levels of active vitamin D are kept under tight control through various chemicals produced by endocrine organs (hormones). This tight control is described by scientists and healthcare professionals as homeostasis. The main controlling hormones are produced by the parathyroid glands, which are small organs situated within the neck. Vitamin D itself is activated by the kidneys.

In some cancers, the activation of vitamin D can take place outside of the kidneys, removing the ability for the parathyroid glands to control their levels and keep them in homeostasis. As such, the levels of active vitamin D increase. Several symptoms can occur as a result (Seymore et al. 1993):

  • Nausea
  • Persistent vomiting (hyperemesis)
  • Passing excessive urine (polyuria)
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Weakness


Other Causes of Vitamin D Excess?

Raised active vitamin D is not only associated with cancer – Other conditions may cause this state (Tebben et al. 2016):

  • Sarcoidosis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Histoplasmosis
  • Excessive intake of Vitamin D


What If I Have These Symptoms?

In such cases, it is important to contact your general practitioner as early as possible for the necessary blood tests and possible admission to the hospital for further treatment. Vitamin D overdose is suspected by healthcare professionals when raised calcium and normal parathyroid hormone levels are found. Successful treatment addresses the aforementioned symptoms, whilst preventing several complications, including heart arrhythmias, damage to arteries and kidney or urinary stones (Lodh et al. 2015).


References and attributions:

Araki, T., Holick, M.F., Alfonso, B.D., Charlap, E., Romero, C.M., Rizk, D. and Newman, L.G., 2011. Vitamin D intoxication with severe hypercalcemia due to manufacturing and labeling errors of two dietary supplements made in the United States. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 96(12), pp.3603-3608.

dfaulder, 2011. “My kidney stone” is licensed under CC BY 2.0 and is used as a featured image in this post. It can be found here:

Lodh, M., Mukhopadhyay, R., Jajodia, N., Sen, D. and Roy, A., 2015. Adult Hypervitaminosis DA Case Series. Int J Endocrinol Metab Disord, 1(3).

Seymour JF, Gagel RF.(1993)Calcitriol: the major humoral mediator of hypercalcemia in Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. Blood. ;82(5):1383.Available at .(Accessed: 9/7/2017)

Tebben P.J, Ravinder J. Singh RJ, Rajiv Kumar R(2016) Vitamin D-Mediated Hypercalcemia: Mechanisms, Diagnosis, and Treatment . Endocr Rev, 37 (5);pp: 521-547. Available at DOI: .Accessed (9/7/2017)


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Best wishes,

Vitdcancer team.

Cancers and vitamin D deficiency

Cancers and vitamin D deficiency

Does cancer cause lower Vitamin D levels?

Vitamin D deficiency is common in cancer patients (Kennel & Drake, 2013). This observation has been the subject of much scientific investigation.  It is not entirely clear at present if cancer itself causes the body to reduce Vitamin D levels, or  if this is indirectly associated with effects of cancer on the body (Jacobs, Kohler, Kunihiro, & Jurutka, 2016)). As Vitamin D can be obtained from sunlight and dietary sources, these factors may be negatively influenced in those afflicted by cancer (e.g., skin cancer patients will be advised to actively avoid significant sun-light exposure (GenoMEL, 2015)). Another factor impacting Vitamin D levels in an individual with cancer are the types and amounts of anti-cancer medicines they are receiving, which may in turn effect how the absorbs, use or stores Vitamin D. Irrespective of the mechanism, it is important for cancer patients to be aware of this tendency towards reduced Vitamin D levels.

Why is Vitamin D important for people with cancer?

Several studies have highlighted a connection between low Vitamin D levels with cancer risk and progression (National Cancer Institute, 2013). Laboratory tests have also demonstrated a link between Vitamin D concentration and so called ‘anti-tumorigenic’ effects – hypothesised due to Vitamin D’s role in cancers gene regulation, as well as preventing the tumour from acquiring a blood supply (angiogenesis) (Holick, 2004) and increasing the rate of cell death (apoptosis). Vitamin D’s role in the possible fight against cancer has also been the target of new medical trials (Thorne & Campbell, 2008).

What typical symptoms may be expected if Vitamin D levels are low?

As well as negative effects on cancer progression, low Vitamin D levels may result in different ailments including general fatigue, bone pain and adverse changes in mental state (thought and mood alteration). As such, these symptoms should be monitored, particularly in patients diagnosed with cancer. A simple blood test will help healthcare professionals determine if Vitamin D levels are related in any way. Where Vitamin D levels are low, a doctor can prescribe dietary supplements to bring levels back into a healthy range.

For additional information on what Vitamin D is and where it can be obtained from please refer to the preceding post: “Vitamin D basics”.


GenoMEL. (2015). GenoMEL: Patient Information. Retrieved July 17, 2017, from

Holick, M. F. (2004). Vitamin D: importance in the prevention of cancers, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79(3), 362–71. Retrieved from

Jacobs, E. T., Kohler, L. N., Kunihiro, A. G., & Jurutka, P. W. (2016). Vitamin D and Colorectal, Breast, and Prostate Cancers: A Review of the Epidemiological Evidence. Journal of Cancer, 7(3), 232–240.

Kennel, K. A., & Drake, M. T. (2013). Vitamin D in the cancer patient. Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care, 7(3), 272–277. JOUR.

National Cancer Institute. (2013). Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention. Retrieved July 7, 2017, from

Thorne, J., & Campbell, M. J. (2008). The vitamin D receptor in cancer. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 67(2), 115–27.


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Vitdcancer team.

Vitamin D basics

Vitamin D basics

Vitamins are nutrients that are vital to the human body yet cannot be synthesized by it. In this post, we’re going to introduce you to the basics of vitamin D so that you can find the future posts addressing its relationship with cancer enjoyable and easier to read.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins and can only be obtained by either getting exposed to sunlight, eating certain foods, or taking supplements. Generally speaking, vitamin D exists in two forms inside the human body: the storage form (25OHD) and the active form (1,25OHD). Physicians usually order lab tests that measure the level of these forms in order to identify vitamin D abnormalities (Mahan & Raymond, 2017); (Holick, et al., 2011).

What does it do?

Vitamin D plays various roles inside the human body: It helps strengthening the bones, regulating blood calcium, and has been under investigations for years for possible cancer and diabetes risk reducing effects (Holick, et al., 2011). It also has hormonal-like functions at the level of nucleus and genes (i.e. affecting cell growth, muscle strength and size gains, & reducing inflammation) (Mahan & Raymond, 2017); (Dorfman, 2017).

How much is enough/too much?

It’s not surprising that vitamin D’s requirements (i.e. recommended daily allowances (RDA)) vary according to age, sex and stages like pregnancy and lactation. Interestingly, vitamin D can also cause toxicity if taken in huge amounts so a level called tolerable upper limit (TUL) has been set in order to help prevent that. For more information please check the following table. (Mahan & Raymond, 2017)

Section1 req

Tips & tricks:

– Sun exposure is the best source for vitamin D. It can supply people with a huge amount that can last them for an extended period of time (i.e. those adequately exposed in summer get enough stores that can last them through the winter). (Mahan & Raymond, 2017).

– For the best results, ditch the sunscreens and expose at least your arms and legs to sunlight directly (i.e. not through glass) for the duration that results in your skin turning slightly pink after 24 hours (Dark-skinned individuals need 3-5 times the duration needed by fair-skinned ones). Vitamin D synthesis is maximum between 11:00am and 3:00pm in the summer and people generally need 2-3 days of exposure per week. (Mahan & Raymond, 2017); (Holick, et al., 2011).

– Some apps can help time the exposure correctly (i.e. Vitamin D calculator, D-minder, & Vitamin D pro). (Mahan & Raymond, 2017).

– For vitamin D content of various sources please check the following table:


References and attributions:

Dorfman, L., 2017. Nutrition in Exercise and Sports Performance. In: L. K. Mahan & J. L. Raymond, eds. Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. 14th ed. St. Louis: Elsevier.

Holick, M. F. et al., 2011. Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 96(7), p. 1911–1930.

Holick, M. F. et al., 2011. Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 96(7), pp. 1915 & 1917, TABLES 1 & 3.

Mahan, L. K. & Raymond, J. L., 2017. APPENDIX 45: Nutritional Facts on Vitamin D. In: L. K. Mahan & J. L. Raymond, eds. Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. 14th ed. St. Louis: Elsevier.

OpenStax, 2014. “Figure 1. Sunlight is one source of vitamin D” licensed by Rice University under a Creative Commons Attribution License (by 3.0). It got slightly edited and is used by our post as its featured image. It can be found here:

More readings and links:


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Best wishes,

Vitdcancer team.