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Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D is inversely associated with body mass index in cancer

Pankaj G Vashi, Carolyn A Lammersfeld, Donald P Braun and Digant Gupta*

Author affiliations

Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, 2520 Elisha Avenue, Zion, IL, 60099, USA

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:51  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-51

Published: 16 May 2011



The association between vitamin D deficiency and obesity in healthy populations and different disease states remains unsettled with studies reporting conflicting findings. Moreover, current dietary recommendations for vitamin D do not take into account a person's body mass index (BMI). We investigated the relationship between serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH)D] and BMI in cancer.


A consecutive case series of 738 cancer patients. Serum 25(OH)D was measured at presentation to the hospital. The cohort was divided into 4 BMI groups (underweight: <18.5, normal weight: 18.5-24.9, overweight: 25-29.9, and obese: >30.0 kg/m2). Mean 25(OH)D was compared across the 4 BMI groups using ANOVA. Linear regression was used to quantify the relationship between BMI and 25(OH)D.


303 were males and 435 females. Mean age at diagnosis was 55.6 years. The mean BMI was 27.9 kg/m2 and mean serum 25(OH)D was 21.9 ng/ml. Most common cancers were lung (134), breast (131), colorectal (97), pancreas (86) and prostate (45). Obese patients had significantly lower serum 25(OH)D levels (17.9 ng/ml) as compared to normal weight (24.6 ng/ml) and overweight (22.8 ng/ml) patients; p < 0.001. After adjusting for age, every 1 kg/m2 increase in BMI was significantly associated with 0.42 ng/ml decline in serum 25(OH)D levels.


Obese cancer patients (BMI >= 30 kg/m2) had significantly lower levels of serum 25(OH)D as compared to non-obese patients (BMI <30 kg/m2). BMI should be taken into account when assessing a patient's vitamin D status and more aggressive vitamin D supplementation should be considered in obese cancer patients.