Low levels of vitamin D in lymphoma patients are associated with cancer progression and even death, according to findings from a Mayo Clinic and University of Iowa study reported by ScienceDaily.
“These are some of the strongest findings yet between vitamin D and cancer outcome,” said lead investigator, Matthew Drake, MD, PhD, an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
Researchers studied 374 newly diagnosed cancer patients suffering from diffuse large B-cells lymphoma (a fast-growing, aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) and found half had vitamin D deficiency. Patients deficient in vitamin D had a greater risk of cancer progression and were more likely to die than patients with optimal vitamin D levels.
“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,” Drake said.
These findings support the growing connection between vitamin D and cancer risks and outcomes as well as reinforce other field research about the vitamin’s overall health benefits, Drake added.
Vitamin D is obtained from sunlight and converted into its active form by the skin. It is also found in food (naturally or fortified as in milk) and is available in supplement form.