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D deficiency may explain disparities in cancer survival rates

Posted on: June 13, 2012   by  Vitamin D Council


A paper recently published in Dermato-Endocrinology suggests that vitamin D deficiency may account for unexplained disparities in cancer survival rates between African and White Americans.

Experts have attributed the 25% increased cancer risk among African Americans (AAs) when compared to White Americans (WAs) to socio-economic status, limited access to health care, and late cancer diagnosis. But even when controlling for these factors, AAs still tend to have lower survival rates than WAs.

Dr William Grant and Dr Alan Peiris have proposed sunlight as the last factor. The researchers conducted a review looking at the association between vitamin D deficiency and cancer in AAs.

After reviewing the literature, the authors found disparities for 13 different types of cancer, after adjusting for confounding variables such as socio-economic status and stage of diagnosis. The cancers reported were: bladder, breast, colon, endometrial, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, rectal, testicular, vaginal cancer, melanoma, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Vitamin D deficiency is independently associated with each of these cancers for which the unexplained disparity exists.

Drs. Grant and Peiris state more research is needed to further support their hypothesis. They concluded:

“Given the biologic plausibility… and the lack of harm with moderate Vitamin D replacement, we recommend Oncologists consider a more proactive stance on this issue pending additional studies.”


Grant WB, Peiris AN. Differences in vitamin D status may account for unexplained disparities in cancer survival rates between African and White Americans. Dermato Endocrinology. June 2012.

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