Cancer Prevention

Vitamin D shown to have protective effects against cancer

First large-scale prospective study demonstrates link between higher plasma vitamin D concentration and reduced risk of several types of cancer

Copyright © 2018

March 2018 saw the publication of a ground-breaking Japanese study (which had followed a large number of participants since 1990) into the cancer-preventative benefits of vitamin D.[1]

While previous research into the link between circulating vitamin D concentration and overall cancer risk in humans has yielded somewhat inconsistent results and/or was done on smaller groups (or in-vitro and on animals), the present study involved 33,736 individuals. None of them had cancer (or a history of cancer) at the outset when their plasma 25-hydroxy vitamin D concentration was measured.

Over the many years of follow-up, 3,301 of these participants, both female and male, were diagnosed with cancer at some point. Comparing the respective baseline vitamin D level of all participants to their later developing cancer (or not), a link could be established between higher vitamin D levels at baseline and a lower risk of contracting cancer at a later point.

This association was particularly strong for liver cancer - in fact, higher vitamin D levels lowered hepatic cancer risk by a whopping 30 to 50%, especially in males. Even after adjustment for various dietary variables (such as total energy intake, fruit/vegetables/meat/fish consumption, and others), the association remained significant.

No association however was discovered between baseline vitamin D levels and breast, lung, or prostate cancer.

Other significant findings of the study:

  • high plasma vitamin D was never correlated with a higher cancer risk
  • from a certain level ("ceiling") onward, more vitamin D did not provide any additional protection against cancer.[2]


1 Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration and subsequent risk of total and site specific cancers in Japanese population: large case-cohort study within Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study cohort (

2 All the details regarding this study can be read at .


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