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):
- Persistent vomiting (hyperemesis)
- Passing excessive urine (polyuria)
- Increased thirst (polydipsia)
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):
- 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: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfaulder/5507761503/in/photostream/.
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 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=8364192 .(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:https://doi.org/10.1210/er.2016-1070 .Accessed (9/7/2017)
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