Dose-response of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in association with risk of colorectal cancer: A meta-analysis

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2017 Apr;168:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2016.12.003. Epub 2016 Dec 16.


Fifteen nested case-control or cohort studies in 14 countries have examined the association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] and risk of colorectal cancer. A meta-analysis of these studies would provide a useful dose-response gradient curve based on pooling of the results of known studies to date. An up-to-date dose-response curve that combines the findings of these studies has not been reported, to our knowledge. This curve would help in designing interventions for future studies. A new meta-analysis would be more precise than any previous analysis due to its larger sample size. Therefore a search of PubMed and other resources was performed in May 2016 for all cohort or nested case-control observational studies that reported risk of colon or colorectal cancer by quantiles of 25(OH)D. All but two of the 15 studies found a trend toward lower risk of colorectal cancer associated with higher serum 25(OH)D. There was a linear reduction in the odds ratio (OR) with each 10ng/ml-increment in 25(OH)D concentration. The lowest quantile of the serum 25(OH)D concentration was generally<20ng/ml. The downward trend in ORs associated with higher serum 25(OH)D concentrations was statistically significant in 3 studies. The pooled OR from all studies comparing highest with lowest quantile of 25(OH)D was 0.67 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.59-0.76), meaning there was a 33% lower risk associated with the highest compared with the lowest quantile of serum 25(OH)D. A dose-response analysis revealed that a serum 25(OH)D of 50ng/ml was associated with an OR of 0.4 (95% CI, 0.2-1.0) compared with a concentration of 5ng/ml. The formula for the linear relationship was OR=0.008x. For example, individuals with a 25(OH)D concentration of 50ng/ml had an approximately 60% lower risk of colorectal cancer than those with a concentration of 5ng/ml. Those with a 25(OH)D concentration of 30ng/ml had a 33% lower risk than those with a concentration of 5ng/ml. The inverse association between serum 25(OH)D and risk of colorectal cancer overall was strong and statistically significant. There also was a mostly linear dose response relationship between serum 25(OH)D and risk of colorectal cancer when all studies were combined. No study reported significant adverse effects, and there was no evidence of publication bias. Misclassification in some studies could have influenced the association, causing it to appear weaker than the true association.

Keywords: 25-Hydroxyvitamin D; Colorectal cancer; Dose-response; Meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms / blood*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D