Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentration and Risk of Breast, Prostate, and Colorectal Cancers: The Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2019 May;28(5):900-908. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-18-1155. Epub 2019 Mar 6.


Background: The role of vitamin D in cancer risk remains controversial, and limited data exist on associations between vitamin D and subtypes of specific cancers. We investigated associations between circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) and risk of colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers, including subtypes.

Methods: A case-cohort study within the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study included 547 colorectal, 634 breast, and 824 prostate cancers, and a sex-stratified random sample of participants (n = 2,996). Concentration of 25(OH)D in baseline-dried blood spots was measured using LC-MS/MS. Cox regression yielded adjusted HRs and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for each cancer in relation to plasma-equivalent 25(OH)D concentration. Associations by stage and BRAF/KRAS status for colorectal cancer, estrogen receptor status for breast cancer, and aggressiveness for prostate cancer were examined in competing risks models.

Results: 25(OH)D concentrations were inversely associated with risk of colorectal cancer [highest vs. lowest 25(OH)D quintile: HR, 0.71; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.51-0.98], which was limited to women (HR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.33-0.82). Circulating 25(OH)D was also inversely associated with BRAF V600E-positive colorectal cancer (per 25 nmol/L increment: HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.50-1.01). There were no inverse associations with breast cancer (HR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.70-1.36) or prostate cancer (HR, 1.11; 95% CI, 0.82-1.48).

Conclusions: Circulating 25(OH)D concentration was inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk for women, but not with risk of breast cancer or prostate cancer.

Impact: Vitamin D might play a role in preventing colorectal cancer. Further studies are required to confirm whether vitamin D is associated with specific tumor subtypes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / blood*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D