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Creighton University to Continue Landmark Study on Vitamin D and Cancer Risk

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Creighton University $4 million to continue its 2007 landmark study linking vitamin D to a reduction in cancer risk.

2009-02-16-more-d-research-tanningnews-copy.jpgThe study’s findings, reported in June 2007, showed for the first time in a clinical trial that postmenopausal women consuming calcium as well as vitamin D3 supplements at nearly three times U.S. government recommended levels could reduce their risk of cancer by 60-77 percent.

The vitamin D3 finding was a secondary goal in the original study,” said Creighton researcher Joan Lappe, Ph.D. “We must now confirm these findings with a clinical trial specifically designed to look at calcium, vitamin D and cancer. Confirmation is necessary in order to have evidence solid enough to change public policy regarding intake levels for vitamin D.”

Most vitamin D researchers are already calling for people to increase their vitamin D levels to 40-60 ng/ml as measured in blood concentration, recognizing that different intake levels will be necessary for different people to obtain those blood levels. Outdoor workers and non-human primates living in sunny climates, groups who make abundant vitamin D naturally through sun exposure to the skin, already have those levels.

Lappe, holder of the Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss and Drs. Gilbert and Clinton Beirne Endowed Chair in Nursing at Creighton and a professor of medicine, was the principal investigator for the landmark study. She will also head the new study.

As with the first study, healthy, postmenopausal women from nine Nebraska counties – Douglas, Sarpy, Washington, Burt, Colfax, Cuming, Dodge, Saunders, and Butler – will be selected randomly through phone calls, beginning in April. A study site is being established at the Fremont Area Medical Center, and study visits will be conducted there. A total of 2,300 women will be recruited and followed for four years. Women who participated in the first study are not eligible.