Researchers from Ruhr University’s Department of Dermatology in Germany report that in patients with melanoma, low vitamin D levels are associated with increased tumor thickness and advanced tumor stage.
Past research has demonstrated that vitamin D limits cell proliferation (associated with tumor growth) and controls cell death, revealing that it has antitumor potential.
In this study, Dr Thilo Gambichler and colleagues measured vitamin D serum levels at baseline and 6 months from 764 patients with malignant melanoma.
The researchers found that of the 764 patients, 73.8% were vitamin D deficient (< 20 ng/ml), 18.8% had insufficient vitamin D levels (20-30 ng/ml), and 7.2% had serum levels > 30 ng/ml. Low vitamin D status was significantly associated increased tumor thickness (P=0.028), and advanced tumor stage (P=0.036).
The authors explain,
“In our multiple regression model, low 25(OH)D serum levels were significantly associated not only with high tumor thickness but also with advanced melanoma stage, indicating that 25(OH)D levels may play a role in tumor control and progression of melanoma.”
The authors call for further research to examine the relationship between vitamin D status and tumor control and progression, as this is the first study to find an association between vitamin D deficiency and advanced tumor stage in melanoma cancer. They conclude,
“…There is increasing evidence that patients with MM [malignant melanoma] who strictly avoid sun exposure might benefit from 25(OH)D supplements that are sufficient to maintain serum levels above 30 ng/ml.”