Sun exposure and cancer survival in Norway: changes in the risk of death with season of diagnosis and latitude

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008:624:43-54. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-77574-6_4.


Epidemiological and experimental studies suggest that derivatives of vitamin D may improve prognosis of a number of cancer types. Sun is our most important source of vitamin D. Seasonal variations and latitudinal gradients of calcidiol (the marker of vitamin D status) have been reported. We wanted to investigate if season and latitude play any role for survival from seven different cancer types in Norway. Seasonal and geographical variations of vitamin D were estimated by calculations and were compared with clinical data. For the survival analyses, 249373 cancer patients were followed for three years after diagnosis and the risk of death was analyzed separately for summer- and winter diagnosis, as well as for two geographical regions with different UV exposures. We found a 15-25% better survival for patients diagnosed during summer and a slight beneficial effect for residents of the high UV region for some of the cancer forms investigated. Based on our results we suggest that calcidiol concentration at the time of cancer diagnosis is related to survival and discuss briefly ways to improve the vitamin D levels in the general population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Calcifediol / blood
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / blood
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Prognosis
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons*
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage
  • Vitamins / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcifediol