Epidemiological studies have suggested inconclusive associations between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and total cancer incidence and mortality. The aim of this study was to quantitatively assess these associations by combining results from prospective cohort studies. A systematic literature search was implemented in PubMed and Scopus databases in April 2019. Comparing the highest with the lowest categories, the multivariate-adjusted relative risks (RRs) and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were pooled using a random-effects model. A trend estimation was performed using a two-stage, dose-response, meta-analysis method. Twenty-three independent prospective studies were included for data synthesis. Eight studies investigated the association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and the risk of cancer incidence (7511 events and 70,018 participants), and the summary estimate showed that 25-hydroxyvitamin D is marginally associated with cancer risk (Summary RR = 0.86; 95% CI: 0.73, 1.02; I2 = 70.8%; p = 0.001). Sixteen studies investigated the association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and the risk of cancer mortality (8729 events and 101,794 participants), and a higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration was inversely associated with the risk of cancer mortality (Summary RR = 0.81; 95% CI: 0.71, 0.93; I2 = 48.8%, p = 0.012). Dose-response analysis indicated that the risk of cancer incidence was reduced by 7% (RRs = 0.93; 95% CI: 0.91, 0.96), and the risk of cancer mortality was reduced by 2% (RRs = 0.98; 95% CI: 0.97, 0.99), with each 20 nmol/L increment of 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration. This meta-analysis provides evidence that a higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration is associated with a lower cancer incidence and cancer mortality.
Keywords: cancer incidence; cancer mortality; meta-analysis; prospective study; vitamin D.