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Low vitamin D may increase risk of tobacco-related cancers

Posted on: March 19, 2013   by  Vitamin D Council


Research published last week in Clinical Chemistry reports that low vitamin D levels may increase smokers’ risk for developing tobacco-related cancers.

In the US, cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths, and can lead to multiple types of cancer, including lung, bladder, cervical, esophageal, head and neck, kidney, liver, stomach, and pancreatic. Healthcare expenditures and productivity losses due to smoking cost the economy $193 billion every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shoaib Afzal, MD, PhD, and colleagues measured vitamin D status from blood samples collected in 1981-1983 from 10,000 participants. Researchers followed the participants for up to 28 years through the Danish Cancer Registry. Of the study participants, 1,081 developed a tobacco-related cancer during the follow-up period. The median vitamin D level among these participants was 14.8 ng/ml compared with 16.4 ng/ml median concentration for all participants. Interestingly, the researchers found that low vitamin D levels were not associated with risk of other cancer types.

“Our analyses show that the association between lower concentrations of plasma vitamin D and higher risk of cancer may be driven by tobacco-related cancer as a group, which has not been shown before,” the authors explain. “This is important for future studies investigating the association between plasma vitamin D and risk of cancer.”


Afzal S, Bojesen SE, Nordestgaard BG. Low plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of tobacco-related cancer. Clinical Chemistry. 2013. [PDF]

For smokers, low vitamin D may lead to cancer. Science Daily. March 15, 2013.

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