Doctors draw correlation between vitamin D deficiency and childhood cancer survivors

Posted at 11:28 AM, Oct 18, 2016

With gray skies all winter long, vitamin D deficiency becomes a problem in the cold months.

While doctors often draw a correlation between mental health issues, such as seasonal depression, and vitamin D deficiency, it also poses a risk to childhood cancer survivors.

Low levels of vitamin D could be contributing to long-term health issues following cancer treatment, according to researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in new research published in the International Journal of Cancer Therapy and Oncology.

"Identifying vitamin D levels in childhood cancer survivors is critically important, because optimizing these levels may help us to prevent secondary cancers and chronic disease," says Denise Rokitka, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatric Oncology and Director of the Long-Term Follow-up Clinic at Roswell Park.

Dr. Rokitka and colleagues reviewed a cross section of medical charts from 139 patients to determine the importance of vitamin D levels among adults who survived childhood cancer.

The research found that 34% were vitamin D deficient and 39% had insufficient levels. Vitamin D levels among those who took supplements was significantly higher, but still 68.3% of these people did not have adequate levels.

Vitamin D levels were not at healthy levels is most survivors over the age of 30 and those who were overweight.

"The long-term effects of therapy and quality of life among adult survivors of childhood cancers have become an area of intense investigation," said Rokitka. "My hope is that future studies will help clarify Vitamin D's role in prevention and health maintenance for these survivors and determine the extent to which vitamin D supplements can improve outcomes."