Study Suggests Vitamin D Improves Survival From Colorectal Cancer

Nov 23, 2008 by

Study Suggests Vitamin D Improves Survival From Colorectal Cancer

by Reuben Chow
first published on NaturalNews.com

A study led by Kimmie Ng, M.D., M.P.H., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has found that colorectal cancer sufferers with high levels of vitamin D had better survival rates during a follow-up period when compared to those with low levels of the vitamin. The study also involved the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Medical University of South Carolina.

These findings are significant because, while previous research have shown a link between vitamin D levels and colorectal cancer occurrence, this study actually establishes correlation between levels of vitamin D in the blood with survival among persons who have already developed colorectal cancer.

Methodology and Details

The study, reported in a June issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, looked at data pertaining to 304 persons who had participated in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) — these studies monitored the health of participants for many years.

The 304 persons had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer from 1991 to 2002 and also had their blood vitamin D levels measured at least two years before their cancer diagnoses.

The patients were categorized into four quartiles according to the measured levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 (25(OH)D) levels in their blood — top 25%, next 25%, and so on. 25(OH)D levels in the blood reflect the body’s store of all sources of vitamin D, including that from diet, supplements, as well as that synthesized by the body after exposure to sunlight. The patients were then observed till January 2005 (for the HPFS) or June 2005 (for the NHS), or until they passed away, whichever took place first.

During the follow-up period, 123 persons passed on, with the cause of death being colon cancer or rectal cancer for 96 of them.

The study found that persons in the top quartile — in other words those with the highest measured levels of vitamin D in their blood — were 48% less likely to die in the follow-up period than those in the bottom quartile. This figure relates to death from any cause. With specific regard to colorectal cancer, the reduction in risk was found to be 39%. This is a significant relationship.

The results remained largely unchanged even after the exclusion of patients who were diagnosed within 5 years of having their blood samples collected.

The study, partly supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute, concluded that “among patients with colorectal cancer, higher pre-diagnosis plasma 25(OH)D levels were associated with a significant improvement in overall survival”.

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