Vitamin D helps colorectal cancer patients decreasing mortality by 55 %

June 23, 2008

Vitamin D may extend the lives of people with colon and rectal cancer, according to a study published on Wednesday, suggesting another health benefit from the so-called sunshine vitamin.

Previous research has indicated that people with higher levels of vitamin D may be less likely to develop colon and rectal cancer, also called colorectal cancer.

The new study performed at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and Harvard School of Public Health involved 304 men and women diagnosed with colorectal cancer from 1991 to 2002, to see if higher levels of vitamin D in the patients affected their survival chances and this turned out to be the case.

The researchers in the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, used blood samples to determine vitamin D levels of the patients, and they were tracked for an average of about 6-1/2 years.

Those in the highest 25 percent of vitamin D levels were 55 percent less likely to die during the study from their cancer or any other cause compared to the patients in the lowest 25 percent of vitamin D levels.

During the study, 123 of the patients died, 96 of them from colorectal cancer.

The American Medical Association, the largest U.S. doctors group, voted this week to urge the Food and Drug Administration to re-examine recommendations for vitamin D intake in light of new scientific findings showing its benefits in the hopes of officially increasing the RDA for Vitamin D, which is currently 400 IU a day in the US. The study is published in the June 20th, 2008 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.