Dietary vitamin D intake and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level in relation to disease outcomes in head and neck cancer patients

Int J Cancer. 2011 Apr 1;128(7):1741-6. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25496. Epub 2010 Jun 7.


Low pretreatment vitamin D status has been associated with worsened disease outcomes in patients with cancer at various sites. Its prognostic significance in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients has not been studied. Patients with HNC who participated in a randomized trial were evaluated for: (i) total intake of vitamin D from diet and supplements using a validated food frequency questionnaire (all trial participants, n = 540) and (ii) pretreatment serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D through a radioimmunoassay (n = 522). The association of dietary/serum measures of vitamin D status with HNC recurrence, second primary cancer (SPC) incidence, and overall mortality was evaluated using multivariate Cox proportional hazard models. There was no significant association between dietary or serum vitamin D measures and the three HNC outcomes. The hazard ratios (HRs) comparing the highest with the lowest quartile of dietary/supplemental vitamin D intake were 1.10 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.66-1.84) for recurrence, 1.05 (95% CI: 0.63-1.74) for SPC, and 1.27 (95% CI: 0.87-1.84) for overall mortality. HRs comparing the uppermost to the lowest quartile of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were 1.12 (95% CI: 0.65-1.93) for recurrence, 0.72 (95% CI: 0.40-1.30) for SPC, and 0.85 (95% CI: 0.57-1.28) for overall mortality. There was no effect modification by cancer stage, season of initial treatment, or trial arm. Among patients with HNC, vitamin D status before treatment does not influence disease outcomes. Our results contrast with those from most published studies, which suggest prognostic significance of vitamin D status in cancer patients at least in subgroups.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / blood*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Radiotherapy / methods
  • Recurrence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D