Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D up to 3 decades prior to diagnosis in relation to overall and organ-specific cancer survival

Stephanie J. Weinstein, Alison M. Mondul, Kai Yu, Tracy M. Layne, Christian C. Abnet, Neal D. Freedman, Racheal Z. Stolzenberg-Solomon, Unhee Lim, Mitchell H. Gail, Demetrius Albanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


While vitamin D has been associated with improved overall cancer survival in some investigations, few have prospectively evaluated organ-specific survival. We examined the accepted biomarker of vitamin D status, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], and cancer survival in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study. Of 4616 cancer cases with measured serum 25(OH)D, 2884 died of their cancer during 28 years of follow-up and 1732 survived or died of other causes. Proportional hazards regression estimated hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between pre-diagnostic 25(OH)D and overall and site-specific survival. Serum 25(OH)D was significantly lower among cases who subsequently died from their malignancy compared with those who did not (medians 34.7 vs. 36.5 nmol/L, respectively; p = 0.01). Higher 25(OH)D was associated with lower overall cancer mortality (HR = 0.76, 95% CI 0.67–0.85 for highest vs. lowest quintile, p-trend < 0.0001). Higher 25(OH)D was related to lower mortality from the following site-specific malignancies: prostate (HR = 0.74, 95% CI 0.55–1.01, p-trend = 0.005), kidney (HR = 0.59, 95% CI 0.35–0.98, p-trend = 0.28), and melanoma (HR = 0.39, 95% CI 0.20–0.78, p-trend = 0.01), but increased mortality from lung cancer (HR = 1.28, 95% CI 1.02–1.61, p-trend = 0.19). Improved survival was also suggested for head and neck, gastric, pancreatic, and liver cancers, though not statistically significantly, and case numbers for the latter two organ sites were small. Higher 25(OH)D status years prior to diagnosis was related to improved survival for overall and some site-specific cancers, associations that should be examined in other prospective populations that include women and other racial-ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1087-1099
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Mortality
  • Prospective cohort
  • Survival analysis
  • Vitamin D


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