The D-Health Trial: A randomized trial of vitamin D for prevention of mortality and cancer

Contemp Clin Trials. 2016 May;48:83-90. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2016.04.005. Epub 2016 Apr 14.


Background: Vitamin D, specifically serum 25(OH)D has been associated with mortality, cancer and multiple other health endpoints in observational studies, but there is a paucity of clinical trial evidence sufficient to determine the safety and effectiveness of population-wide supplementation. We have therefore launched the D-Health Trial, a randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation for prevention of mortality and cancer. Here we report the methods and describe the trial cohort.

Methods: The D-Health Trial is a randomized placebo-controlled trial, with planned intervention for 5years and a further 5years of passive follow-up through linkage with health and death registers. Participants aged 65-84years were recruited from the general population of Australia. The intervention is monthly oral doses of 60,000IU of cholecalciferol or matching placebo. The primary outcome is all-cause mortality. Secondary outcomes are total cancer incidence and colorectal cancer incidence.

Results: We recruited 21,315 participants to the trial between February 2014 and May 2015. The participants in the two arms of the trial were well-balanced at baseline. Comparison with Australian population statistics shows that the trial participants were less likely to report being in fair or poor health, to be current smokers or to have diabetes than the Australian population. However, the proportion overweight or with health conditions such as arthritis and angina was similar.

Conclusions: Observational data cannot be considered sufficient to support interventions delivered at a population level. Large-scale randomized trials such as the D-Health Trial are needed to inform public health policy and practice.

Keywords: Cancer; Mortality; Randomized clinical trial; Vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cause of Death
  • Cholecalciferol / therapeutic use*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mortality*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamins
  • Cholecalciferol

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12613000743763