An introduction to cancerTreatment

There are several studies reporting that those with higher serum 25(OH)D levels at time of cancer diagnosis have better survival rates than those with lower 25(OH)D levels.

The first type of cancer for which an increased survival rate with respect to serum 25(OH)D levels is lung cancer:

After a median follow-up time was 72 months (range, 0.2 to 141), with 161 recurrences and 234 deaths, for overall survival, the adjusted hazard ratio (AHR) was 0.74 (95% CI, 0.50 to 1.10; Ptrend = 0.07) for the highest versus lowest quartile of 25(OH)D levels. Stratified by stage, a strong association was observed among stage IB-IIB patients (AHR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.24 to 0.82; Ptrend = 0.002), but not among stage IA patients (AHR, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.62 to 1.96; Ptrend = 0.53)1.

Higher serum 25(OH)D levels were associated with higher survival rates after breast cancer diagnosis2. Those with >30 ng/mL had a 17% 12-year all-cause mortality rate, while those with

Survival after diagnosis of colorectal cancer is higher for those with higher serum 25(OH)D levels: "Compared with levels in the lowest quintile, participants with predicted 25(OH)D levels in the highest quintile had an adjusted HR of 0.50 (95% CI, 0.26-0.95) for cancer-specific mortality and 0.62 (95% CI, 0.42-0.93) for overall mortality3".

For melanoma: "In the cohort (prospective) study, higher 25(25)D(3) levels were associated with lower Breslow thickness at diagnosis (P = .0002) and were independently protective of relapse and death: the hazard ratio for relapse-free survival (RFS) was 0.79 (95% CI, 0.64 to 0.96; P = 0.01) for a 20 nmol/L increase in serum level4."

Studies have also found beneficial effects on survival for prostate cancer5 and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)6

Thus, there is now evidence for six types of cancer, breast, colorectal, lung, prostate cancer, melanoma and NHL that higher serum 25(OH)D levels at time of diagnosis are correlated with improved survival rates. These and other studies suggest that those diagnosed with cancer should have their serum 25(OH)D levels tested, then be given supplements to raise their serum levels to perhaps 70-80 ng/mL7, starting with high doses at first to rapidly raise levels, then lower doses to maintain those levels. Such doses and levels should do no harm8.

Page last edited: 04 May 2011


  1. Zhou, W. Heist, R. S. Liu, G. Asomaning, K. Neuberg, D. S. Hollis, B. W. Wain, J. C. Lynch, T. J. Giovannucci, E. Su, L. Christiani, D. C. Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels predict survival in early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer patients. J Clin Oncol. 2007 Feb 10; 25 (5): 479-85.
  2. Goodwin, P. J. Ennis, M. Pritchard, K. I. Koo, J. Hood, N. Frequency of vitamin D (Vit D) deficiency at breast cancer (BC) diagnosis and association with risk of distant recurrence and death in a prospective cohort study of T1-3, N0-1, M0 BC. J Clin Oncol. 2008; 26 (May 20 suppl): abstr 511.
  3. Ng, K. Wolpin, B. M. Meyerhardt, J. A. Wu, K. Chan, A. T. Hollis, B. W. Giovannucci, E. L. Stampfer, M. J. Willett, W. C. Fuchs, C. S. Prospective study of predictors of vitamin D status and survival in patients with colorectal cancer. Br J Cancer. 2009 Sep 15; 101 (6): 916-23.
  4. Newton-Bishop, J. A. Beswick, S. Randerson-Moor, J. Chang, Y. M. Affleck, P. Elliott, F. Chan, M. Leake, S. Karpavicius, B. Haynes, S. Kukalizch, K. Whitaker, L. Jackson, S. Gerry, E. Nolan, C. Bertram, C. Marsden, J. Elder, D. E. Barrett, J. H. Bishop, D. T. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels are associated with breslow thickness at presentation and survival from melanoma. J Clin Oncol. 2009 Nov 10; 27 (32): 5439-44.
  5. Tretli S, Hernes E, Berg JP, Hestvik UE, Robsahm TE. Association between serum 25(OH)D and death from prostate cancer. Br J Cancer. 2009 Feb; 100 (3): 450-4.
  6. Drake, M. T. Maurer, M. J. Link, B. K. Habermann, T. M. Ansell, S. M. Micallef, I. N. Kelly, J. L. Macon, W. R. Nowakowski, G. S. Inwards, D. J. Johnston, P. B. Singh, R. J. Allmer, C. Slager, S. L. Weiner, G. J. Witzig, T. E. Cerhan, J. R. Vitamin D insufficiency and prognosis in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. J Clin Oncol. 2010 Sep 20; 28 (27): 4191-8.
  7. Grant, W. B. An ecological study of cancer incidence and mortality rates in France with respect to latitude, an index for vitamin D production. Deramato-Endocrinology. 2010 Apr; 2 (2): 62-67.
  8. Hathcock, J. N. Shao, A. Vieth, R. Heaney, R. Risk assessment for vitamin D. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jan; 85 (1): 6-18.