Doctors in Spain have published a new study (March 2017) in which vitamin D’s protective role against cancer is examined.

The Spanish researchers looked at vitamin D’s influence in the early and late stages of cancer development. They found that vitamin D’s benefits were at maximum when given in early stage cancer, and much less effective if given in late stage cancer.1 This agrees with many other studies that suggests the sooner patients are supplemented with vitamin D, the more benefit they will derive. Below is some of that research.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found:

  • Many patients with cancer have insufficient vitamin D levels, and low vitamin D levels are associated with increased ‘all-cause mortality’ and especially mortality due to cancer.
  • Low vitamin D levels have also been associated with increased risk of infections, increased pain, depressive disorders and impaired quality of life.
  • Cancer patients with low vitamin D levels have been associated with higher opioid dose, that is, more pain.
  • The researchers also reported on a case report where vitamin D supplementation resulted in radically decreased opioid dose, less pain and better well-being.
  • The researchers conclude: vitamin D-supplementation to patients with palliative cancer might be beneficial and could improve their well-being, decrease pain and reduce susceptibility to infections. 2

Here is what other researchers reported: “Insufficient vitamin D plasma levels are found in 20- 60% of cancer patients at diagnosis and vitamin D deficiency is associated with higher aggressivity of tumor and shorter survival of patients.

Even in the absence of clinical studies showing benefit of supplementation on outcome, clear recommendations are currently available for treatment of vitamin D deficiency. Owing to the high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in cancer patients and significant risks of its further decrease after antitumor therapy, it should become standard of care to examine 25- hydroxyvitamin D serum levels and correct vitamin D insufficiency in cancer patients” 3

  • In recent research, doctors suggest that bowel cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood are more likely to survive the disease.
  • vitamin D levels in healthy adults significantly impacts genes involved with a number of biologic pathways associated with cancer.
  • The list of growing research in support of vitamin D for cancer prevention and positive impact on cancer continues to grow.

In a supportive study cancer patients who have higher levels of vitamin D when they are diagnosed tend to have better survival rates and remain in remission longer than patients who are vitamin D-deficient, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).4

Vitamin D is associated with a much better chance of cancer survival

According to research from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who had high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream prior to treatment with chemotherapy and targeted drugs, survived longer, on average, than patients with lower levels of the vitamin.Patients with the highest levels of vitamin D have half the risk of dying compared with those with the lowest levels, the findings reveal.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh tested blood samples from almost 1600 patients after surgery for bowel cancer.

The greatest benefit of vitamin D was seen in patients with stage 2 disease, at which the tumor may be quite large but the cancer has not yet spread.

  • Researchers found that three quarters of the patients with the highest vitamin D levels were still alive at the end of five years, compared with less than two thirds of those with the lowest levels.

The results show that vitamin D is associated with a much better chance of cancer survival, although the nature of this relationship is not clear from this study.


Breast cancer

Other research says breast cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood are twice as likely to survive the disease as women with low levels of this nutrient. This comes from a report by University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

In previous studies, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine showed that low vitamin D levels were linked to a high risk of premenopausal breast cancer. These finding lead to questioning the relationship between 25-hydroxyvitamin D  and breast cancer survival rates.

Their findings: “Vitamin D metabolites increase communication between cells by switching on a protein that blocks aggressive cell division. . . As long as vitamin D receptors are present tumor growth is prevented and kept from expanding its blood supply. Vitamin D receptors are not lost until a tumor is very advanced. This is the reason for better survival in patients whose vitamin D blood levels are high.”

1: Bandera Merchan B, Morcillo S, Martin-Nuñez G, Tinahones FJ, Macías-González M. The role of vitamin D and VDR in carcinogenesis: Through epidemiology and basic sciences. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2017 Mar;167:203-218. doi:
10.1016/j.jsbmb.2016.11.020. Review. PubMed PMID: 27913313.
2 Björkhem-Bergman L, Bergman P. Vitamin D and patients with palliative cancer. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2016 Sep;6(3):287-91. doi: 10.1136/bmjspcare-2015-000921. Epub 2016 Apr 15.
3 C. Duggan, J. de Dieu Tapsoba, C. Mason, I. Imayama, L. Korde, C.-Y. Wang, A. McTiernan. Effect of Vitamin D3 Supplementation in Combination with Weight Loss on Inflammatory Biomarkers in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Cancer Prevention Research, 2015; DOI: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0449
4 The Impacts of Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels on Cancer Patient Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,”