Renal cancerVitamin D levels

One observational study has found that higher dietary intake of vitamin D is associated with lower risk of kidney cancer.

A case-control study in Italy found a reduced risk of kidney cancer for the highest vs. lowest oral intake of vitamin D [0.76 (95% CI = 0.57-1.01)1.

A recent analysis of pooled case-control data of prediagnostic serum 25(OH)D found no trend or odds ratio (risk) for quintiles from 100 nmol/L and no statistically significant variation from unity for any quintile2 3.  

As this finding diverges from the findings in ecological studies, the question arises why the difference.  One likely cause is that a one time measurement of serum 25(OH)D several years prior to cancer diagnosis is not representative of serum 25(OH)D levels during the time when they would be most effective in fighting cancer.  The period could be decades as represented by the time that it takes nonmelanoma skin cancer to develop or a couple of years4

Recent studies indicate that serum 25(OH)D levels change significantly with time5 6.

Thus, a single serum 25(OH)D level measurement loses its prognostic value after a number of years. This was shown for breast cancer for which no study using a follow-up period longer than three years has found an inverse correlation with respect to serum 25(OH)D levels, but studies with shorter follow-up periods always do7. The reasons why long follow-up periods are not reliable include the large seasonal variation in solar UVB doses and serum 25(OH)D levels as a result8, and that lifestyles can change with time, perhaps due to retirement or moving to a new location.

Page last edited: 01 July 2011


  1. Bosetti, C. Scotti, L. Maso, L. D. Talamini, R. Montella, M. Negri, E. Ramazzotti, V. Franceschi, S. La Vecchia, C. Micronutrients and the risk of renal cell cancer: a case-control study from Italy. Int J Cancer. 2007 Feb 15; 120 (4): 892-6.
  2. Gallicchio, L. Moore, L. E. Stevens, V. L. Ahn, J. Albanes, D. Hartmuller, V. Setiawan, V. W. Helzlsouer, K. J. Yang, G. Xiang, Y. B. Shu, X. O. Snyder, K. Weinstein, S. J. Yu, K. Zeleniuch-Jacquotte, A. Zheng, W. Cai, Q. Campbell, D. S. Chen, Y. Chow, W. H. Horst, R. L. Kolonel, L. N. McCullough, M. L. Purdue, M. P. Koenig, K. L. Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of kidney cancer: Cohort Consortium Vitamin D Pooling Project of Rarer Cancers. Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Jul 1; 172 (1): 47-57.
  3. Helzlsouer, K. J. Overview of the Cohort Consortium Vitamin D Pooling Project of Rarer Cancers. Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Jul 1; 172 (1): 4-9.
  4. Lappe, J. M. Travers-Gustafson, D. Davies, K. M. Recker, R. R. Heaney, R. P. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun; 85 (6): 1586-91.
  5. Hofmann, J. N. Yu, K. Horst, R. L. Hayes, R. B. Purdue, M. P. Long-term variation in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration among participants in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Apr; 19 (4): 927-31.
  6. Jorde, R. Sneve, M. Hutchinson, M. Emaus, N. Figenschau, Y. Grimnes, G. Tracking of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels during 14 years in a population-based study and during 12 months in an intervention study. Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Apr 15; 171 (8): 903-8.
  7. 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):
  8. Hypponen, E. Power, C. Hypovitaminosis D in British adults at age 45 y: nationwide cohort study of dietary and lifestyle predictors. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar; 85 (3): 860-8.