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Vitamin D does not improve cancer survival much – when dose size, etc. is ignored – Oct 2015

BMC Cancer 2015, 15:670 doi:10.1186/s12885-015-1684-0
Mona Jeffreys1, Maria Theresa Redaniel12 theresa.redaniel at bristol.ac.uk and Richard M. Martin134
1 School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK
2 NIHR CLAHRC West, 9th Floor, Whitefriars, Lewins Mead, Bristol BS1 2NT, UK
3 Medical Research Council/University of Bristol Integrated Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
4 University of Bristol/University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust National Institute for Health Research Bristol Nutrition Biomedical Research Unit, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK


This study appears to totally ignore

  • dose size
  • type of vitamin D (D2 vs D3)
  • if the person was taking any vitamin D not via prescription

Suspect that most of the prescriptions were for 2,000 IU of D2

There remains uncertainty in whether vitamin D status affects cancer survival. We investigated whether vitamin D (± calcium) supplementation affects cancer survival in women.

Participants were women aged ≥55 years identified from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) with a first diagnosis of breast, colorectal, lung, ovarian or uterine cancer between 2002 and 2009, and at least 5 years of CPRD data prior to diagnosis. Cox proportional hazards were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95 % confidence intervals (CI) of the relationship between pre-diagnostic vitamin D supplementation and all-cause mortality. To avoid confounding by indication, the primary analysis compared women with 3+ to 1–2 (but no more) vitamin D prescriptions. Models were adjusted for pre-diagnostic body mass index, smoking, alcohol and deprivation. A sensitivity analysis excluded supplements prescribed in the year prior to diagnosis.

Exposure to 3 or more versus 1 to 2 prescriptions of vitamin D was not associated with survival from any of the cancers studied. Any vitamin D prescription, compared to never having been prescribed one, was associated with a better survival from breast cancer (HR 0.78, 95 % CI 0.70 to 0.88). The sensitivity analysis suggested a possible detrimental effect of vitamin D supplementation on lung cancer outcomes (HR for 3 versus 1 or 2 prescriptions 1.22 (95 % CI 0.94 to 1.57); HR for any versus no prescriptions 1.09 (0.98 to 1.22)).

We found no evidence that vitamin D supplementation is associated with survival among women with cancer. Previous observational findings of beneficial effects of vitamin D supplementation on cancer survival may be confounded.

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Attached files

ID Name Comment Uploaded Size Downloads
6042 Cancer survival.pdf PDF 2015 admin 12 Oct, 2015 23:25 362.43 Kb 465
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