Vitamin D supplementation and cancer mortality: Narrative review of observational studies and clinical trials

Patrizia Gnagnarella, Valeria Muzio, Saverio Caini, Sara Raimondi, Chiara Martinoli, Susanna Chiocca, Claudia Miccolo, Paolo Bossi, Diego Cortinovis, Ferdinando Chiaradonna, Roberta Palorini, Federica Facciotti, Federica Bellerba, Stefania Canova, Sara Gandini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Several studies have investigated the beneficial effects of vitamin D on survival of cancer patients. Overall evidence has been accumulating with contrasting results. This paper aims at nar-ratively reviewing the existing articles examining the link between vitamin D supplementation and cancer mortality. We performed two distinct searches to identify observational (ObS) studies and randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of vitamin D supplementation (VDS) in cancer patients and cohorts of general population, which included cancer mortality as an outcome. Published reports were gathered until March 2021. We identified 25 papers published between 2003 and 2020, including n. 8 RCTs on cancer patients, n. 8 population RCTs and n. 9 ObS studies. There was some evidence that the use of VDS in cancer patients could improve cancer survival, but no significant effect was found in population RCTs. Some ObS studies reported evidence that VDS was associated with a longer survival among cancer patients, and only one study found an opposite effect. The findings do not allow conclusive answers. VDS may have the potential as treatment to improve survival in cancer patients, but further investigations are warranted. We strongly support investment in well-designed and sufficiently powered RCTs to fully evaluate this association.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3285
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Cancer
  • Mortality
  • Supplementation
  • Survival
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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