Vitamin D May Reduce Mortality in Colorectal Cancer

High pre-diagnosis blood levels linked to reduced risk of death

THURSDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- Having high blood levels of vitamin D reduces the risk of death in patients subsequently diagnosed with colorectal cancer, according to a report in the June 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Kimmie Ng, M.D., from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues examined whether pre-diagnosis levels of plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D) were associated with mortality in 304 patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer from 1991 to 2002. Patients were followed until death or until 2005, whichever came first.

The researchers found that higher pre-diagnosis levels of 25(OH)D were associated with a significantly lower risk of overall mortality (adjusted hazard ratio 0.52 for highest versus lowest quartile). Mortality from colorectal cancer also tended to improve (hazard ratio 0.61). Excluding patients diagnosed within five years of blood collection did not change the results, the report indicates.

The study "is one of the first steps toward learning more about health behaviors that can affect colorectal cancer prognosis," Cornelia M. Ulrich, Ph.D., and Rebecca S. Holmes, M.D., from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, write in an accompanying editorial.

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