Vitamin D Exposure and Ovarian Cancer Risk and Prognosis

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Feb 12;17(4):1168. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17041168.


Given the poor prognosis of ovarian cancer and limited population-level strategies for early detection and long-term treatment success, knowledge of modifiable risk factors for prevention and improved prognosis is important. Vitamin D has received wide scientific interest in cancer research as having the potential to be one such factor. We carried out a systematic narrative review of the literature on vitamin D and ovarian cancer risk and survival. We included 17 case-control and cohort studies on ovarian cancer incidence. Five analyses were of sun exposure, among which three reported an inverse association. Of 11 analyses of dietary vitamin D, two reported an inverse association. Among five studies of 25(OH)D levels, an inverse association was reported in two. Across all studies the findings were inconsistent, but some recent studies have suggested that vitamin D exposure at earlier ages may be important. Only three studies examining vitamin D exposure in relation to survival among ovarian cancer survivors were identified and the findings were inconsistent. The evidence to date supports a null influence of vitamin D on both ovarian cancer risk and survival. Future research should ensure that exposure assessment captures vitamin D exposure from all sources and for the etiologically or prognostically pertinent period.

Keywords: 25(OH)D; diet; incidence; ovarian cancer; risk; sun exposure; survival; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D Deficiency*
  • Vitamin D*
  • Vitamins


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D

Grant support