, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 219-224
Date: 02 Oct 2008

Chemotherapy is linked to severe vitamin D deficiency in patients with colorectal cancer

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Preclinical and clinical evidence support an association between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Normal vitamin D status has been linked to favorable health outcomes ranging from decreased risk of osteoporosis to improved cancer mortality. We performed a retrospective study to assess the impact of metastatic disease and chemotherapy treatment on vitamin D status in patients with colorectal cancer residing in Western New York.

Materials and methods

Patients, 315, with colorectal cancer treated in a single institute were assayed for 25-OH vitamin D. The association of age, gender, primary disease site and stage, body mass index, and chemotherapy with vitamin D status was investigated.


Vitamin D deficiency was common among participants with a median 25-OH vitamin D level of 21.3 ng/ml (optimal range 32–100 ng/ml). Primary site of disease and chemotherapy status were associated with very low 25-OH vitamin D levels (≤15 ng/ml) on multivariate analysis. Patients receiving chemotherapy and patients with a rectal primary were 3.7 and 2.6-fold more likely to have severe vitamin D deficiency on multivariate analysis than nonchemotherapy patients and colon cancer primary patients, respectively.


Chemotherapy is associated with a significant increase in the risk of severe vitamin D deficiency. Patients with colorectal cancer, especially those receiving chemotherapy, should be considered for aggressive vitamin D replacement strategies.