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Meta-analysis finds low vitamin D status may be linked to increased colorectal cancer risk

Posted on: January 4, 2017   by  Amber Tovey


A new meta-analysis of 15 studies found that healthy vitamin D status was associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among men and women in the United States. When detected early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable. However, the most difficult cases occur when the cancer has spread throughout the body to the liver or lungs. In these cases, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery may help. Research has focused on developing more treatments for later stages of colorectal cancer to provide a greater likelihood of a successful recovery.

Studies have shown a relationship between healthy vitamin D status and a longer survival among colorectal patients, suggesting vitamin D may play an important in colorectal cancer outcome.

Researchers recently conducted a meta-analysis of 15 case-control studies to examine the relationship between vitamin D levels and risk of colorectal cancer. All but two of the 15 studies found that higher vitamin D levels were associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.

According to their analysis, individuals with a vitamin D status of 50 ng/ml had a 60% reduced risk of colorectal cancer compared to those with levels of 5 ng/ml. In addition, those with vitamin D levels of 30 ng/ml had a 33% reduced risk of colorectal cancer compared to individuals with levels of 5 ng/ml.

The researchers concluded,

“The inverse association between serum 25(OH)D and risk of colorectal cancer overall was strong and statistically significant.”

Clinical trials are needed to determine whether vitamin D supplementation may help prevent or improve outcomes for colorectal cancer patients.


Tovey, A. & Cannell, JJ. Meta-analysis finds vitamin D is inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk. The Vitamin D Council Blog & Newsletter, 2017.


Garland, C. & Gorham E. Dose-response of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in association with risk of colorectal cancer: A meta-analysis. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2016.


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