Mayo Clinic finds higher vitamin D levels associated with improved lymphoma survival
A presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology held December 5-8 this year in New Orleans reveals the finding of researchers from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Iowa of an association between higher levels of vitamin D and greater survival in individuals being treated for lymphoma.
In a study funded by the National Cancer Institute, researchers participating in the University of Iowa/Mayo Clinic Lymphoma Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) measured serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in 374 patients with newly diagnosed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The team chose to study lymphoma due to the higher incidence of the disease in northern latitudes, a finding that may be related to decreased exposure to sunlight which results in lower levels of vitamin D. The study is the first to evaluate lymphoma outcome in relation to vitamin D levels.
Half of the patients were found to have deficient serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of less than 25 nanograms per milliliter. This group had a 1.5 times greater adjusted risk of disease progression and twice the rate of dying over the course of the study compared to those with optimal levels.
Vitamin D has been found to regulate numerous genes involved in prostate, breast, colon and other cancers. A deficiency of the vitamin may be involved in the genesis of some cancers as well as influencing the outcome of the disease. "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," explained lead investigator, Matthew Drake, MD, PhD, who is an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "It is fairly easy to maintain vitamin D levels through inexpensive daily supplements or 15 minutes in the sun three times a week in the summer, so that levels can be stored inside body fat."
"These are some of the strongest findings yet between vitamin D and cancer outcome," Dr Drake concluded. "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."
More than 60,000 Americans were diagnosed with some form of lymphoma in 2004, and more than 20,000 died from their disease. Lymphomas are linked to a variety of risk factors, including diet, medical history, environmental exposure to chemicals, and infections. To date, conventional medical treatment for lymphoma has been based on combinations of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and stem cell therapy. However, new treatments for lymphoma now add to these traditional therapies the use of substances that can specifically target the delivery of radiotherapy to lymphoma cells (radioimmunotherapy) or activate the immune system to kill lymphoma cells (chemoimmunotherapy).
Lymphoma patients should consult their physicians before using any nutritional supplements while receiving conventional medical treatment. In addition, lymphoma patients using nutritional supplements should enlist their physicians in ensuring the use of blood tests and diagnostic procedures that are essential in monitoring the effectiveness of any adjuvant therapy for lymphoma.
The Life Extension Foundation® suggests:
Curcumin—up to 3.2 grams (g) daily (Gescher A 2004)
Soy extract (containing up to 60 milligrams (mg) of isoflavones): twice daily (Anderson GD et al 2003)
Vitamin A—40,000 to 50,000 international units (IU) daily (Kakizoe T 2003; Meyskens FL, Jr. et al 1995)
Vitamin D3—16,000 IU three times weekly (Mellibovsky L et al 1993)
Green tea—725 mg three times daily, or 10 cups of Japanese green tea (Laurie SA et al 2005; Pisters KM et al 2001)
Vitamin C—2000 mg daily (Kakizoe T 2003)
Vitamin E—400 IU daily (Kakizoe T 2003)
Resveratrol—20 to 40 mg daily (Walle T et al 2004)
Ginger—up to 6 g daily (Betz O et al 2005)
Fish oil—4.8 g of EPA/DHA daily (Buckley R et al 2004)
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