Thursday , June 4 2020

Vitamin D increases the chance of survival in blood cancer

Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of death in Hodgkin's lymphoma

Vitamin D plays a special role in the immune system. Blood cells, also called lymphomas, are diseases that are directly linked to the immune system, as white blood cells are affected by the disease. A German study examined the association between vitamin D levels in people with cancer and the risk of death. Researchers have found that vitamin D deficiency significantly worsens the chances of surviving Hodgkin's lymphoma.

A research team at the University of Cologne has investigated recent studies of the effects of vitamin D on the course of blood cancer. It has been found that sufferers who suffer from Hodgkin's lymphoma often have vitamin D deficiency. This deficiency had a direct impact on the chances of survival, as more vitamin D deficiency patients survived within ten years. The results were recently presented in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Hodgkin's lymphoma is a dangerous form of cancer in the blood that can occur in younger patients. (Photo: Juan Gertner /

Vitamin D is directly linked to the course of blood cancer

Vitamin D is central to calcium and bone metabolism as well as to the immune system. A particular effect on the body's immune responses has long been attributed to the solar vitamin. Researchers from the University of Cologne have now discovered a direct link between vitamin D levels and the risk of death in Hodgkin's lymphoma. As Hodgkin's lymphoma develops in interaction with the immune system and studies of other lymphoma diseases have already provided information, Drs has been assisted by a study team in Cologne. Sven Borchman now examines the context in more detail.

Vitamin D deficiency is widespread in those who suffer from blood cancer.

The team studied 351 patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma (Hodgkin's disease). 175 participants had vitamin D deficiency. In the group of patients with vitamin D deficiency, blood cancer progressed much more rapidly and more frequent relapses occurred during treatment. This effect is constantly observed at all stages of the disease. The study covered a period of 13 years.

Vitamin D improves survival

In conclusion, researchers have found that vitamin D deficiency has a direct impact on survival. For the deficient group, a hazard ratio of 1.82 was established for the defective group. This means that 82 percent more people with vitamin D deficiency died than without it. It became even clearer that for a large majority of people without the disease, the disease did not progress within ten years.

Results of studies

In 81.8% of patients without vitamin D deficiency, the progression of blood cancer can be prevented within ten years. In the vitamin D deficiency group, this was successful in only 64.2 percent of cases. During this period, 12.8 percent of the respondents died without defects. In the vitamin D deficiency group, 23.9 percent of participants died. "It was surprising that the difference was so great," says Dr. Shaw. Borchmann. Such a result is usually only observed in studies comparing more effective with less effective chemotherapy.

Can vitamin D make chemotherapy drugs more effective?

Based on the study, the team tested in laboratory experiments to determine if vitamin D supplementation could support Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment with today's standard chemotherapy regimens. It has shown that chemotherapy works better in combination with vitamin D. Why this is so far has been understood as insufficient. "With vitamin D deficiency, a risk factor has been identified that can be theoretically corrected relatively easily by taking appropriate preparations," the study's director summed up. From the current results, however, it cannot be concluded that vitamin D supplements actually improve the therapeutic results. (Vb)

Read also: Rare lymphomas at a glance.


Graduate Editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Sven Borchman, Melita Cirillo, Helen Gergen et al: Vitamin D deficiency warning is associated with impaired progression and overall lymphoma survival in Hodgkin, Clinical Oncology, 2019,
  • University of Cologne: Hodgkin Lymphoma: Vitamin D Deficiency Impairs Survival (Available on: 18.10.2019),

Important note:
This article contains general information only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He could not replace a doctor's visit.

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