Vitamin D levels linked to survival in lymphoma patients

Updated: Dec 06, 2009, 00:00 AM IST

Washington: The amount of vitamin D in patients being treated for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is strongly linked to cancer progression and overall survival, according to a new study.

"These are some of the strongest findings yet between vitamin D and cancer outcome," says the study`s lead author, Matthew Drake, an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

"While these findings are very provocative, they are preliminary and need to be validated in other studies. However, they raise the issue of whether vitamin D supplementation might aid in treatment for this malignancy, and thus should stimulate much more research," he added.

The study of 374 newly diagnosed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma patients found that 50 percent had deficient vitamin D levels based on the commonly used clinical value of total serum 25(OH)D less than 25 ng/mL.

Patients with deficient vitamin D levels had a 1.5-fold greater risk of disease progression and a twofold greater risk of dying, compared to patients with optimal vitamin D levels after accounting for other patient factors associated with worse outcomes.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers from Mayo Clinic and the University of Iowa.

Drake said that the findings support the growing association between vitamin D and cancer risk and outcomes, and suggest that vitamin D supplements might help even those patients already diagnosed with some forms of cancer.

"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," he said.

The results have been presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in New Orleans.