Vitamin D May Help Fight Colorectal Cancer, Study Finds

Results from a new study has shown that high doses of vitamin D may help impede the growth of advanced colorectal cancer when combined with chemotherapy.

Apart from skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis in both men and women, especially in the United States.

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Colorectal cancer begins in either the colon or the rectum as a growth, called a polyp, that appears on the lining of the colon or rectum. Though not all polyps turn into cancer. A polyp may be detected during a colonoscopy and remove for testing.

According to clinical trial, large doses of vitamin D could considerably slow down the progress of metastatic colorectal cancer.

In the experiment, the researchers recruited 139 people with previously untreated metastatic colorectal cancer and split them into two groups:

  • The high-dose vitamin D group: This group took 8,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day for 14 days, before switching to 4,000 IU a day.
  • The low-dose vitamin D group: This group took 400 IU each day for the whole duration of the study

Both groups also received standard chemotherapy during the trial.

The research team discovered that the progress of the disease in the participants in the high-dose group stopped for an average of about 13 months, while those in the low-dose group experienced a delay in progress of the disease close to 11 months.

The team also found that the participants in the high-dose group were less likely to experience disease progression or death during a 22.9-month follow-up period.

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Lead author of the study, Dr. Charles Fuchs, who is also director of the Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, CT, said:

“The results of our trial suggest an improved outcome for patients who received vitamin D supplementation, and we look forward to launching a larger trial to confirm these exciting and provocative findings.”

Only 9 percent of the partakers had appropriate levels of vitamin D before the trial. The team noted that only those in the large-dose group developed and maintained adequate levels during the study. The body produces vitamin D as a result of sunlight on the skin and can also obtain it from a few dietary sources.

Dr. Ng said that the study results are significant because vitamin D is inexpensive, widely available, and safe.

Dr. Kimmie Ng, director of clinical research at Dana-Farber’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center in Boston, MA, says the trial results are encouraging and could lead to new treatment promises in the future.

According to Dr Kimmie:

“To our knowledge, this study is the first completed randomized clinical trial of vitamin D supplementation for treatment of advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer.”

The study was called SUNSHINE and was featured in the journal JAMA.


Disclaimer: The content provided on is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.



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