Overview Lung cancer and vitamin D

- - - - UPDATE Sept 2015: Meta-analysis - - - -

Lung Cancer risk decreases 5 percent for every 2.5 nanogram increase in Vitamin D – meta-analysis Sept 2015
25 nanogram higher Vitamin D ==> 50% less risk of Lung Cancer ?

- - - - - - - UPDATE May 2014 - - - - - - - -

Proposal that previous smokers get free CT scans to detect lung cancer May 2014

Smoking 1 pack every 4 days = 30 packs/year

  • Expected Medicare cost $9 billion per year for 11 million CT scans = $800 per scan
  • CT scans expected to reduce lung cancer deaths by 20% by providing early detection
  • Risks: overdiagnosis, a high frequency of false-positive results and increased radiation exposure

Cost of CT and Vitamin D for a 20% reduction in lung cancer deaths

Estimation of the the cost of CT scan per pack

  • Assume same number years of smoking at CT scanning
  • Assume 400 packs per year (> the minimum of 32/year)
  • Cost of scan to the public per pack = $2

A small section of a PDF Prevention of lung cancer by vitamin D etc- July 2010


Lung cancer remains the most common cause of cancer death in the United States and worldwide. About 80?90% of cases are smoking-related and smoking cessation programs are of great importance in reducing lung cancer risk. However, the lifetime risk for lung cancer remains elevated even in ex-smokers. Chemoprevention holds the promise to further reduce this risk and thus to decrease lung cancer incidence and mortality.

Over the last decades, most chemoprevention trials for lung cancer have yielded negative outcomes. Population-based studies suggest that high intake of certain foods such as soy, red wine or green vegetables may be associated with decreased cancer risk. Because of these observations and their general safety, a plethora of natural compounds is currently being studied for the chemoprevention of cancer. In this review we discuss promising in vitro and in vivo data of novel natural compounds, their interference with molecular mechanisms responsible for lung cancer development and potential implications for their further preclinical and clinical investigation.


Vitamin D deficiency is a common phenomenon in the developed world, with studies suggesting that as many as 75% of American adults and adolescents are vitamin D deficient 38. Numerous epidemiologic studies have found links between vitamin D deficiency and can- cer, most notably breast, colon, and lung cancer, with a relative risk reduction in vitamin D-exposed versus non-exposed subjects ranging between 25?50% 39.

A recent update of the Women’s Health Study showed a lower risk for the development of breast cancer (Hazard Ratio 0.65) in premenopausal women with the highest vs. the lowest amount of vitamin D consumption 40. Cholecalciferol, the active form of vitamin D (Figure 1), is a steroid hormone. Forming a complex with its receptor, it acts as a transcription factor that regulates cell cycle control by regulating p21 and cdk expression. It furthermore leads to transcription of E-cadherin, the loss of which is a hallmark of epithelial-mesemchymal transition associated with proliferation and invasion of the malignant cell. In biopsies of human bronchial epithelium and lung cancer progenitor lesions, a progressive loss of cytoplasmic vitamin D receptor staining was observed with increasing histologic grade suggesting the involvement of the vitamin D signaling pathways in lung carcinogenesis 41.

In a randomized study of vitamin D and calcium vs. placebo in postmenopausal women at risk for osteoporosis, a statistically significant reduction in the risk of developing any cancer was observed for women who took vitamin D and calcium 42. Sample size and cancer incidence rates, how- ever, were low with very large confidence intervals so that these findings should only be considered to be hypothesis generating.

Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), a major risk factor for the development of lung cancer. In the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), the pulmonary function parameters FEV1 and FVC were significantly lower in subjects with the lowest quintile of vitamin D levels when compared with the highest quintile 43. Certain polymorphisms in the vitamin D binding protein (VDBP) seem to be protective against COPD 44. Studies examining vitamin D supplementation for the prevention of lung cancer are currently ongoing (clinicaltrials.gov).
- - - - - - - - - - -

See also Lung cancer decreased by 7.5% for every 1260 feet in altitude

Yet another reason to think that Lung Cancer might be reduced with vitamin D

See also VitaminDWiki


PubMed for Lung Cancer and vitamin D includes
Cancer intervention trials using Vitamin D

See also: Vitamin D Council

See any problem with this page? Report it to the webmaster.