Research has shown that bowel cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood are more likely to survive the disease.
Patients with the highest levels of vitamin D were found to have half the risk of dying compared with those with the lowest levels. The study is the first to correlate total blood levels of vitamin D in bowel cancer patients after their diagnosis – which includes that produced after exposure to sunlight and that obtained from dietary sources – with their long term survival prospects.
The University of Edinburgh team tested blood samples from almost 1600 patients after surgery for bowel cancer. The greatest benefit of vitamin D was seen in patients with stage 2 disease, at which the tumour may be quite large but the cancer has not yet spread.
Researchers found that three quarters of the patients with the highest vitamin D levels were still alive at the end of five years, compared with less than two thirds of those with the lowest levels. The results show that vitamin D is associated with a much better chance of cancer survival, although the nature of this relationship is not clear from this study.
The study’s authors aim to set up a clinical trial to test whether taking vitamin D tablets in combination with chemotherapy can improve bowel cancer survival rates. Measuring vitamin D levels in bowel cancer patients could also provide a useful indication of prognosis, the scientists say.
Professor Malcolm Dunlop, of the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Our findings are promising but it is important to note that this is an observational study. We need carefully designed randomised clinical trials before we can confirm whether taking vitamin D supplements offers any survival benefit for bowel cancer patients.”
The research, funded by Cancer Research UK, is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Congratulations to Dr Patrick Pollard on his notable achievement in winning the 1st prize of Agilent Outstanding Investigator Award at this year’s Annual International Conference of the Metabolomics Society...Read more
A unique international meeting, Clinical Genomes Scotland, will take place at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh on Monday 6th October 2014. The meeting is organised by Professors Nick Hastie, Tim Aitman and Mary Porteous (University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian) and will address how the clinical community should deal with the increasing availability of genome sequencing, how Scotland will rise to the challenge raised by the UK 100,000 genomes project, and how genome technology and information can best be applied to healthcare.
The meeting has a programme of exceptional UK and international speakers and is anticipated to influence the direction of genomics in clinical practice for Scotland, the UK and in other administrations with an interest in clinical genome sequencing.
Registration is now open to all clinicians, researchers, healthcare commissioners and policy setters with an interest in genetic/genomic research:
Further information is available from Sharon.Mitchell@igmm.ed.ac.uk
Congratulations to Professor David Cameron on his recent appointment as the Scottish Cancer Research Champion by the CSO.
This is a newly created role intended to unite regional cancer activity across Scotland, and provide a single voice for driving forward Scottish cancer research.
Professor Cameron is the Clinical Director at the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre and Director of Cancer Services at NHS Lothian. As Professor of Oncology at Edinburgh University he is also an active researcher, with an interest in breast cancer.
It is the first time that cancer in Scotland has a single research clinical lead. Professor Cameron said “This role will provide national leadership in the development of clinical research activity within cancer in Scotland".