Lung cancerIntroduction

Levels of serum 25(OH)D at or above 40 ng/mL might reduce the risk of lung cancer by about 10-20% compared to levels of 20-25 ng/mL.

Lung cancer is the cancer with the highest mortality rate in many countries, especially in mid-to-high latitude countries. Smoking and smoke from coal, diesel, and wood combustion are important risk factors.

Ecological studies (based on geographical variation of cancer rates and indices of solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) doses), provide support for a role of vitamin D in reducing risk of developing lung cancer. Those working out of doors, such as farmers, have about a 40% reduced risk of lung cancer compared to the rest of the population, most likely due to increased lifetime UVB irradiance and higher serum 25(OH)D levels over most of the life.

Studies of diagnosis with respect to season of discovery and operation as well as survival with respect to serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels at time of surgery also support a beneficial role of vitamin D for lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the cancer with the highest death rates in the United States1. It is also the leading type of cancer associated with death from cancer in many countries in the world.

Smoking is the most important cause of lung cancer2. However, smoke from indoor coal or wood cooking fires is also an important risk factor in developing countries3. Air pollution from coal, diesel, or wood combustion is also a risk factor for lung cancer4.

Diet also plays a role, with fat and meat increasing risk5 6 and fruits and vegetables decreasing risk7.

While cancer mortality rates are decreasing in the United States as prevalence of smoking decreases1, rates appear to be increasing in developing countries as prevalence of smoking increases1.

Thus, if there is a simple way to reduce the risk of lung cancer separate from reducing smoking and exposure to other smoke, it would be worthwhile to embrace. Vitamin D seems to satisfy that requirement.

Page last edited: 22 August 2011


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