Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 527–535 | Cite as

Vitamin D insufficiency among African-Americans in the southeastern United States: implications for cancer disparities (United States)

  • Kathleen M. Egan
  • Lisa B. Signorello
  • Heather M. Munro
  • Margaret K. Hargreaves
  • Bruce W. Hollis
  • William J. Blot
Original Paper



To determine the prevalence and predictors of vitamin D insufficiency among black and white adult residents of the southern US.


A cross-sectional analysis of serum 25(OH)D levels using baseline blood samples from 395 Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS) participants. Participants were African-American and white adults aged 40–79 who enrolled in the study from 2002–2004. We defined hypovitaminosis D as serum 25(OH)D levels ≤15 ng/ml.


Hypovitaminosis D prevalence was 45% among blacks and 11% among whites. Vitamin D intake from diet and supplements was associated with modest increases in circulating 25(OH)D (0.5–0.7 ng/ml per 100 IU increment), but hypovitaminosis D was found for 32% of blacks with intake ≥400 IU/day. Body mass index (BMI) was a strong predictor of risk for hypovitaminosis D among black women (OR = 6.5, 95% CI 1.7–25.1 for BMI ≥30 kg/m2 vs. 18–24.9 kg/m2). UVR exposure estimated by residential location was positively associated with 25(OH)D levels among all groups except white women.


Hypovitaminosis D was present in a substantial proportion of the African-American population studied, even in the South and among those meeting recommended dietary guidelines. Vitamin D should continue to be a studied target for ameliorating racial cancer disparities in the US.


Vitamin D Racial/ethnic disparities African-Americans Neoplasms Epidemiology 



The Southern Community Cohort Study is funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (R01 CA092447).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen M. Egan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lisa B. Signorello
    • 1
    • 3
  • Heather M. Munro
    • 3
  • Margaret K. Hargreaves
    • 4
  • Bruce W. Hollis
    • 5
  • William J. Blot
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Moffitt Cancer Center and Research InstituteTampaUSA
  3. 3.International Epidemiology InstituteRockvilleUSA
  4. 4.Meharry Medical CollegeNashvilleUSA
  5. 5.Medical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA

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