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Researchers Say More Aggressive Vitamin D Supplementation Needed in Obese Cancer Patients

CHICAGO, June 15, 2009-Body mass index (BMI) should be taken into account when assessing a cancer patient’s vitamin D status, according to researchers at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), who found that obese cancer patients had significantly lower levels of vitamin D compared to non-obese patients.

The association between vitamin D and obesity remains unsettled with studies reporting conflicting findings on the relationship between the two. This association assumes even greater importance in cancer because of the alleged role of vitamin D in cancer.

"Currently, the dietary recommendations for vitamin D do not take into account a patient’s BMI," said Carolyn Lammersfeld, national director of nutrition for CTCA and a principal investigator in the study. "We investigated the relationship between vitamin D and BMI in a large sample of cancer patients and found that as BMI groups increased from normal to overweight or obese classifications, there was a significant decrease in vitamin D."

The researchers evaluated a group of 740 cancer patients seen at CTCA from January 2008 to June 2008. Of the 740 patients, 303 were male and 437 female, with a mean age at presentation of 55.7 years (SD = 10.2). The mean BMI was 27.9 kg/m2 (SD = 6.7). The most common cancers were lung (134, 18.1%), breast (131, 17.7%), colorectal (97, 13.1%), pancreatic (86, 11.6%), prostate (45, 6.1%) and ovarian (39, 5.3%). The mean vitamin D (serum 25(OH)D) was 21.9 ng/ml (SD = 13.5).

The study concluded that obese cancer patients (BMI >=30 kg/m2) had significantly lower levels of vitamin D 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, researchers determined.

This study was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, May 29-June 2, 2009, and was publicly released on ASCO’s Web site, www.asco.org, on May 14, 2009.

About Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Inc. (CTCA) is a national network of hospitals focusing on complex and advanced stage cancer. CTCA offers a comprehensive, fully integrated approach to cancer treatment and serves patients from all 50 states at facilities located in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tulsa. Known for delivering the Mother Standard® of care and Patient Empowerment Medicine®, CTCA provides patients with information about cancer and their treatment options so they can control their treatment decisions. For more information about CTCA, go to www.cancercenter.com.

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