Tag: cancer

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.

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 http://genomel.org/info-for-patients/%EF%BF%BCsun-protection-and-vitamin-d-after-a-diagnosis/

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 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14985208

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. http://doi.org/10.7150/jca.13403

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. http://doi.org/10.1097/SPC.0b013e3283640f74

National Cancer Institute. (2013). Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention. Retrieved July 7, 2017, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/vitamin-d-fact-sheet

Thorne, J., & Campbell, M. J. (2008). The vitamin D receptor in cancer. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 67(2), 115–27. http://doi.org/10.1017/S0029665108006964


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Best wishes,

Vitdcancer team.