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Vitamin D Linked to Survival in Lymphoma Patients

Supplementation might slow cancer, preliminary study suggests

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The levels of vitamin D in patients with a type of lymphoma appear to be connected to cancer progression and the likelihood of survival, researchers have found.

"These are some of the strongest findings yet between vitamin D and cancer outcome," said lead investigator Dr. Matthew Drake, an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "While these findings are very provocative, they are preliminary and need to be validated in other studies. However, they raise the issue of whether vitamin D supplementation might aid in treatment for this malignancy, and thus should stimulate much more research."

The study authors looked at 374 patients who had been newly diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Tests suggested that half of the patients didn't have enough vitamin D in their systems, and those patients had a 1.5-fold greater risk of disease progression. After the researchers adjusted their figures to account for the influence of other factors, the risk of death among patients with vitamin D deficiency during the study period was doubled compared to patients with ideal levels of vitamin D.

"The exact roles that vitamin D might play in the initiation or progression of cancer is unknown, but we do know that the vitamin plays a role in regulation of cell growth and death, among other processes important in limiting cancer," Drake said.

What to do? "It is fairly easy to maintain vitamin D levels through inexpensive daily supplements or 15 minutes in the sun three times a week in the summer, so that levels can be stored inside body fat," Drake said.

More information

Learn more about vitamin D from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, Dec. 5, 2009

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