Low Vitamin D Levels May Be Detrimental in Leukemia

Researchers see faster disease progression, more death with vitamin D deficiency

THURSDAY, Nov. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Insufficient vitamin D levels in people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL) appear to be associated with faster disease progression and a higher mortality rate, according to research published online Nov. 3 in Blood.

Tait D. Shanafelt, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues tested 390 CLL patients for 25-hydroxyvitamin D plasma concentration and followed them over three years to evaluate the relationship of vitamin D levels with time-to-treatment (TTT) and overall survival (OS). They also followed an observation cohort of 153 untreated individuals with CLL for a median of 9.9 years.

In the first group, the researchers found that 30.5 percent of the patients were found to have insufficient vitamin D levels; after a median of three years, those with deficient vitamin D levels had a 66 percent greater risk of progressing and needing chemotherapy, and twice the risk of dying. In the observation group, 39.9 percent were found to have vitamin D deficiencies at time of diagnosis, and were significantly more likely to progress in their disease and to die.

"Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with inferior TTT and OS in CLL patients. Whether normalizing vitamin D levels in deficient CLL patients would improve outcome merits clinical testing," the authors write.

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