Vitamin D3 from Ultraviolet-B Exposure or Oral Intake in Relation to Cancer Incidence and Mortality

Curr Nutr Rep. 2019 Sep;8(3):203-211. doi: 10.1007/s13668-019-0262-5.


Purpose of review: This review summarizes the understanding of vitamin D3's role in reducing risk of cancer incidence and mortality.

Recent findings: Recent randomized clinical trials and observational studies of participants who took part in vitamin D3 supplementation studies provide increasing evidence that concentrations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D3] up to ~ 60 ng/ml are inversely correlated with all cancer and some specific cancers' incidence and death, with a stronger effect on survival and death than on incidence. Mechanisms linking vitamin D3 to effects on cellular proliferation, anti-angiogenesis, and anti-metastasis continue to be found. Vitamin D3 reduces cancer risk causally. Maintaining 25(OH)D3 in the range of 40-60 ng/ml reduces the risk of many cancers. Raising 25(OH)D3 concentrations after diagnosis to that range increases survival rates and could significantly reduce the global burden of cancer incidence and death.

Keywords: Cancer prevention; Mechanisms; Mendelian randomization; Randomized controlled trials; Vitamin D; Vitamin D deficiency.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Calcifediol / blood
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cholecalciferol / blood
  • Cholecalciferol / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / prevention & control
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Cholecalciferol
  • Calcifediol