The Effects of UVB and Vitamin D on Decreasing Risk of Colorectal Cancer Incidence and Mortality: A Review of the Epidemiology, Clinical Trials, and Mechanisms

Nutr Cancer. 2019;71(5):709-717. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2018.1521444. Epub 2018 Dec 27.


The solar ultraviolet B-vitamin D-cancer hypothesis was first suggested in 1980 based on a geographical ecological study. Since then, several ecological and observational studies, as well as researches of mechanisms have supported the hypothesis. Also, the association between vitamin D condition and cancer risk has been assessed in a number of epidemiologic studies, while data from interventional studies remain scant. In regard of cancer locations, the body of evidence is most substantial for colorectal cancer, for which support comes from studies of 25(OH)D, vitamin D intake, and region of residence in a sunny weather. Collectively evidence demonstrates that vitamin D has a potent and beneficial effect at antagonizing and blocking several mitogenic mechanisms related to tumorigenesis. Taken together with the epidemiological studies and limited clinical trials, individuals may need to consider elevating 25(OH)D levels via sun exposure and/or vitamin D supplementation to decrease risk of colorectal cancer, in addition to standard care, treat cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Ultraviolet Rays*
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology*
  • Vitamins / pharmacology*


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D