Lung cancerVitamin D levels

There appears to be only one study reporting the association between prediagnostic serum 25(OH)D and incidence of lung cancer. It was a nested case-control study from Finland in which a serum draw in 1985-88 was used for serum 25(OH)D level determination for members of the cohort followed until April 30, 2005 and failed to find a statistically significant correlation for lung cancer incidence1. However, for the darker season, inverse correlations were found, but were not statistically significant, although the trend was. For those with serum 25(OH)D levels 75 nmol/L (30 ng/mL). However, there was no statistically significant difference in odds ratio for lung cancer for those with >25 nmol/L.

The Finish cohort from which this study was derived reported that for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, there was an inverse correlation with respect to serum 25(OH)D for the first seven years, but a direct correlation for the remaining years2. Thus, the findings for lung cancer are very likely distorted by the long follow-up time involved. See, also, Grant3, regarding the problem with long follow-up times for breast cancer.

Based on the evidence of reduced risk of lung cancer for those who spend more time out of doors, such as farmers, it appears that higher vitamin D levels may reduce the risk of lung cancer by 10-20%.

Page last edited: 22 August 2011


  1. Weinstein, S. J. Yu, K. Horst, R. L. Parisi, D. Virtamo, J. Albanes, D. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d and risk of lung cancer in male smokers: a nested case-control study. PLoS One. 2011; 6 (6): e20796.
  2. Lim, U. Freedman, D. M. Hollis, B. W. Horst, R. L. Purdue, M. P. Chatterjee, N. Weinstein, S. J. Morton, L. M. Schatzkin, A. Virtamo, J. Linet, M. S. Hartge, P. Albanes, D. A prospective investigation of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of lymphoid cancers. Int J Cancer. 2009 Feb 15; 124 (4): 979-86.
  3. Grant, W. B. Effect of interval between serum draw and follow-up period on relative risk of cancer incidence with respect to 25-hydroxyvitamin D level; implications for meta-analyses and setting vitamin D guidelines. Dermato-endocrinology. 2011; 3 (3):