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Vitamin D deficiency may increase mortality risk in ovarian cancer patients

May 8, 2014

Women with ovarian cancer who are vitamin D deficient may be at greater risk of mortality compared to those with sufficient blood vitamin D concentrations, suggests a new study.

To examine a potential link between blood vitamin D concentrations and survival rates among ovarian cancer patients, the observational study measured serum vitamin 25(OH)D3 concentrations and the 5-year survival rates of 72 epithelial ovarian cancer patients aged 37–79 who had undergone surgery (1). Serum vitamin D concentrations were also measured in a group of 65 healthy, non-obese women aged 35–65 years. The study results showed that vitamin D concentrations were lower in patients with ovarian cancer than in the reference group. The overall 5-year survival rate was significantly higher in the subgroup of patients with a 25(OH)D3 concentration over 10 ng/mL compared to women with a concentration below 10 ng/mL.

The researchers concluded that low vitamin D3 concentration in the blood is associated with lower overall survival rate, which might suggest that severe vitamin D deficiency plays an important role in ovarian cancer becoming more aggressive. Testing for vitamin D as part of standard procedure could help to identify ovarian cancer patients with a worse prognosis who would undoubtedly then benefit from special attention and supplementation.

Among cancers of the female reproductive system, ovarian cancer has become the second most common and is the fifth-ranked cause of cancer-related mortalities in women in Europe and the United States (2). Although our understanding of ovarian cancer has greatly improved, the etiology of the disease remains unknown. Moreover, even though surgical procedures have made great progress and new chemotherapy protocols have been introduced, the 5-year survival rate does not exceed 45%. The main reason for this is that most women with ovarian cancer present symptoms of later stages of the disease, despite the intro-duction of new markers for the detection of ovarian cancer. Vitamin D is considered to be a significant factor in tumor growth inhibition (3).

References

  1. Walentowicz-Sadlecka M. 25(OH)D3 in patients with ovarian cancer and its correlation with survival. Clinical Biochemistry. Published online August 2012.

  2. Jemal A. et al. Cancer statistics, 2009. CA Cancer J Clin. 2009; 59:225–249.

  3. Holick M. F. Vitamin D: evolutionary, physiological and health perspectives. Curr Drug Targets. 2011; 12(1):4–18.