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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Yale: Study – Vitamin D and Colorectal Cancer Survival

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” may be helpful for people diagnosed with colon cancer, says  Dr. Charles Fuchs, director of Yale Cancer Center.

A small clinical trial, called the “Sunshine Trial,” found the odds of dying from colon cancer were lower for those with high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream than for those whose blood contained lower levels. Dr. Fuchs conducted the research with colleagues from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Results were published in JAMA.

A group of 139 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer were prescribed standard chemotherapy and vitamin D supplements. One group received a high dose of vitamin D (8,000 international units [IU] daily for 14 days followed by 4,000 IU/day thereafter), and the other group was given low doses (400 IU, found in most multivitamins).

Dr. Fuchs and colleagues found that the 69 patients who received the high dosage of vitamin D experienced a 36 percent improvement in the rate of cancer progression or death when compared to the 70 patients who received low-dose supplements. Specifically, the length of time before the disease worsened was longer (a median time of 13 months) compared to those who were supplemented with lower doses, whose disease worsened after about 11 months.

“Our trial suggests that addition of high-dose vitamin D to chemotherapy for colorectal cancer can improve the effectiveness of our standard therapies,” says Dr. Fuchs. “Ultimately, this represents a relatively inexpensive intervention that could make a meaningful difference in the lives of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer.”

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