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Ethical challenge – giving vitamin D to only half of Cancer (etc) patients – Jan 2017

VitaminDWiki on unethical

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GrassrootsHealth Jan 2017


Contains the following item
Repurposing Vitamin D as an Anticancer Drug
DC Gilbert et al.
MRC Clinical Trials unit at UCL, London, UK
Clinical Oncology, January 2016 Behind $36 paywall

This editorial paper points to four ways vitamin D has been shown to have beneficial effects in regard to cancer prevention and treatment:

  • Anti-inflammatory - diminishes inflammatory pathways associated with cancer
  • Antiproliferative - preventing or retarding the spread of cancer cells
  • Angiogenesis - suppresses the formation and development of blood vessels
  • Apoptosis - induces the death of cancer cells

The authors review the mixed results of observational studies and RCTs that have reported on vitamin D levels and cancer incidence. Many of the studies show no effect, but the authors suggest that may be due to low doses of vitamin D and follow-up periods that were not long enough to observe an effect. The paper also reports on four current RCTs (VITAL, FIND, D-Health, VIDAL), all of which are giving the equivalent of 1,600-3,300 IU /day either as daily doses or monthly bolus doses.

They acknowledge the ethical and practical challenges of designing a trial for vitamin D and cancer. Specifically, the ethical problem of recruiting participants who are deficient and treating some only with placebo, leaving them in a deficient status. Alternatively, recruiting participants and treating them to a point beyond basal status could result in a mixed study population with muted results.

As these challenges are addressed in future studies, the current trials will provide additional information for vitamin D and cancer outcomes in the next few years.

They said it best in their lead in paragraph:

  • "Repurposing drugs as anticancer therapeutics could shorten the conventional investigational pathway and open multiple new avenues of investigation. Evidence of potential anticancer effects can be collated from in vitro and in vivo models..."


GrassrootsHealth believes that NOW! is the time to start using vitamin D - for cancer prevention and treatment. It is safe, it is inexpensive and it is effective. We do not need to wait for more RCTs

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