SUNSHINE: Vitamin D Slows Colon Cancer Progression

Reviewed by C.H. Weaver M.D. Medical editor

The first-ever completed comparative clinical trial of the use of vitamin D as a colorectal cancer therapy has shown that disease progression is slowed with high-dose supplements according to lead author Kimmie Ng, MD, of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, who presented the study results at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2017 Annual Meeting.1

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes from dietary supplements, foods such as fortified milk and cereal, certain kinds of fish (including salmon, mackerel, and tuna), and exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is important for bone health, and some research suggests that it may also reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. In recent years, observational data have shown that higher plasma levels of vitamin D are associated with improved survival in colorectal cancer patients.2

The SUNSHINE clinical trial was conducted in patients with previously untreated metastatic colorectal cancer. All participants received standard treatment with the FOLFOX chemotherapy regimen (folinic acid, fluorouracil, and oxaliplatin) plus Avastin (bevacizumab) and either a high or low dose of supplemental vitamin D.

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Patients in the high-dose group received a loading dose of 8000 IU/day of vitamin D3 orally for 2 weeks followed by 4000 IU/day. Those in the low-dose group received a standard vitamin D3 dose of 400 IU/day. The higher dose of vitamin D supplementation was found to significantly improve progression-free survival (PFS) by about 2 months compared to the lower dose.

Additional Information on Vitamin D


  1. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2017 Annual Meeting. Abstract 3506. Presented June 5.

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