Vitamin D linked to better outcomes in non-hodgkin lymphoma

30 Mar 2015

A new study found that people with lower vitamin D levels prior to treatment for follicular lymphoma succumb to the disease or face relapse earlier than patients with sufficient vitamin D levels in their blood.

Jonathan W. Friedberg, M.D., director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute, and Jennifer Kelly, M.P.H., Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, led the collaborative follicular lymphoma study, which is believed to be the first to report that lack of vitamin D is a potentially modifiable risk factor for this type of cancer.

Study details and outcomes

Researchers observed a total of 423 follicular lymphoma patients in two independent cohorts, who were followed for a minimum of 5 ½ years each. They measured the patients' baseline vitamin D blood levels before cancer treatment began, and then tracked and analyzed cancer survival data for each group.

According to lead study author J. Friedberg, vitamin D levels might provide a previously unidentified but modifiable factor associated with prognosis of the disease as better ways to predict its course are needed.


Future research might support prescribing vitamin D supplements for patients at the earliest point of follicular lymphoma treatment, when patients are typically monitored closely but have not started active therapy, investigators concluded. They also suggested that vitamin D may represent a proxy or biomarker for better health going into cancer treatment.

Too soon to recommend an optimal level of Vitamin D

Large differences in vitamin D levels among the patients in the two cohorts prevented scientists from being able to recommend an optimal level of vitamin D for follicular lymphoma patients. Geographic regions (including less sunny climates) and ethnicity and genetics (African Americans often have lower levels that other races) influence baseline vitamin D levels in people to a great extent, and would impact a threshold level.


Source: Science Daily

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