Vitamin K and cancer

Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2017 Dec;77(8):555-567. doi: 10.1080/00365513.2017.1379090. Epub 2017 Sep 21.


Subclinical vitamin K deficits refer to carboxylation defects of different types of vitamin K-dependent hepatic and extrahepatic so-called Gla proteins without prolongation of the prothrombin time. This condition has been reported in different clinical situations due to insufficient supply or malabsorption of vitamin K as well as drug interactions. This review discusses the effects of different vitamin K subspecies on tumour growth and the possible anti-tumour effects of increased vitamin K intake. Blocking carboxylation of vitamin K-dependent proteins with warfarin anticoagulation - what are the risks/benefits for carcinogenesis? Previous studies on both heparin and low molecular weight heparin blocking of the vitamin K-dependent factors X and II have shown tumour suppressive effects. Vitamin K has anti-inflammatory effects that could also impact carcinogenesis, but little data exists on this subject.

Keywords: PIVKA-II; Vitamin K; anticoagulants; apoptosis; cell cycle checkpoints; growth arrest-specific protein 6; matrix Gla protein; neoplasm; osteocalcin; steroid and xenobiotic receptor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis / metabolism*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin K / physiology*
  • Vitamin K Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin K Deficiency / metabolism


  • Vitamin K