Purpose: Higher plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3) (25(OH)D) levels are associated with a decreased incidence of colorectal cancer, but the influence of plasma 25(OH)D on the outcome of patients with established colorectal cancer is unknown.
Patients and methods: We prospectively examined the association between prediagnosis 25(OH)D levels and mortality among 304 participants in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer from 1991 to 2002. Participants diagnosed within 2 years of blood collection were excluded. Patients were observed until death, June 2005 (NHS), or January 2005 (HPFS), whichever came first. The primary end point was overall mortality. Cox proportional hazards models were used to calculate hazard ratios (HR) adjusted for other risk factors for cancer survival.
Results: Higher plasma 25(OH)D levels were associated with a significant reduction in overall mortality (P for trend = .02). Compared with the lowest quartile, participants in the highest quartile had an adjusted HR of 0.52 (95% CI, 0.29 to 0.94) for overall mortality. A trend toward improved colorectal cancer-specific mortality was also seen (HR = 0.61; 95% CI, 0.31 to 1.19). The results remained unchanged after excluding patients diagnosed within 5 years of blood collection (P for trend = .04); the multivariate HR for overall mortality comparing extreme quartiles was 0.45 (95% CI, 0.19 to 1.09).
Conclusion: Among patients with colorectal cancer, higher prediagnosis plasma 25(OH)D levels were associated with a significant improvement in overall survival. Further study of the vitamin D pathway and its influence on colorectal carcinogenesis and cancer progression is warranted.