A new study has found that the amount of vitamin D in patients being treated for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma was strongly associated with cancer progression and overall survival. The results will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in New Orleans.
“These are some of the strongest findings yet between vitamin D and cancer outcome,” says the study’s lead investigator, Matthew Drake, M.D., Ph.D., an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “While these findings are very provocative, they are preliminary and need to be validated in other studies. However, they raise the issue of whether vitamin D supplementation might aid in treatment for this malignancy, and thus should stimulate much more research.”
The researchers’ study of 374 newly diagnosed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma patients found that 50 percent had deficient vitamin D levels based on the commonly used clinical value of total serum 25(OH)D less than 25 ng/mL. Patients with deficient vitamin D levels had a 1.5-fold greater risk of disease progression and a twofold greater risk of dying, compared to patients with optimal vitamin D levels after accounting for other patient factors associated with worse outcomes.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from Mayo Clinic and the University of Iowa. These researchers participate in the University of Iowa/Mayo Clinic Lymphoma Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE), which is funded by the National Cancer Institute. The 374 patients were enrolled in an epidemiologic study designed to identify predictors of outcomes in lymphoma. Since this was not a clinical trial, patient management and treatments were not assigned, but rather followed standard of care for clinical practice.
The findings support the growing association between vitamin D and cancer risk and outcomes, and suggest that vitamin D supplements might help even those patients already diagnosed with some forms of cancer, says Dr. Drake. “The exact roles that vitamin D might play in the initiation or progression of cancer is unknown, but we do know that the vitamin plays a role in regulation of cell growth and death, among other processes important in limiting cancer,” he says.
Below is a link to an edited youtube video featuring Dr Witzig and Dr. Drake.