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Study links vitamin D to colon cancer survival
Date:6/18/2008

levels in the highest quartile were 48 percent less likely to die (from any cause, including colon cancer) than those with the lowest vitamin D measurements. The odds of dying from colon cancer specifically were 39 percent lower, the scientists found.

"Our data suggest that higher prediagnosis plasma levels of [vitamin D] after a diagnosis of colorectal cancer may significantly improve overall survival," the authors wrote. "Future trials should examine the role of vitamin D supplementation in patients with colorectal cancer."

The measurements of vitamin D in the patients' blood reflected both the amounts made by the body when exposed to sunlight and to all sources of the vitamin in their diets, said Ng. However, she added, there may be additional unknown factors that might account for individual differences. Patients with the highest vitamin D levels tended to have lower body-mass index (BMI) indicating that they were leaner, and also were more physically active. However, after controlling for BMI and physical activity, as well as other prognostic factors, higher vitamin D levels were still independently associated with better survival rates.

Ng said that a trial is being planned in which colon cancer patients will take vitamin D along with post-surgery chemotherapy to look for any benefits of the supplements.

Meanwhile, she said that individuals with colon cancer should consult their physicians as to whether they should add vitamin supplements to their daily regimen. Standard recommended daily amounts of vitamin D supplements range from 200 International Units (IU) per day for people under age 50 to 400 IU for people between 50 and 70, and 600 IU for those over 70.


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Contact: Bill Schaller
william_schaller@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5357
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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