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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000 Oct;9(10):1059-65.

Plasma 1,25-dihydroxy- and 25-hydroxyvitamin D and adenomatous polyps of the distal colorectum.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachussetts 02115, USA.


1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D] inhibits proliferation and promotes differentiation of human colon cancer cell lines. Epidemiological findings, although not entirely consistent, suggest an inverse relationship between vitamin D intake and colorectal cancer and adenoma, colorectal cancer precursor lesions. We evaluated the relationship of plasma 1,25(OH)2D and 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] with distal colorectal adenoma among 326 matched case and control pairs (nested in the prospective Nurses' Health Study), who provided blood in 1989-1990 and who underwent endoscopy in 1989-1996. Plasma vitamin D metabolite concentrations were determined blindly by RIA. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated from multiple conditional logistic regression models. Mean plasma 1,25(OH)2D and 25(OH)D levels did not significantly differ (P = 0.3 and 0.7, respectively) between cases (31.6 +/- 8.4 pg/ml and 26.4 +/- 10.6 ng/ml, respectively) and controls (32.2 +/- 8.6 pg/ml and 26.8 +/-10.2 ng/ml, respectively). However, women whose plasma 1,25(OH)2D concentration was below 26.0 pg/ml (a level typically considered to be below normal) were at increased risk of distal colorectal adenoma (OR, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.03-2.40). Compared with the lowest 1,25(OH)2D quartile, women in the second (OR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.41-1.02), third (OR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.50-1.30), or upper (OR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.43-1.15) quartiles were at a statistically nonsignificant lower risk of adenoma. The relationship was stronger for large/villous adenoma and among those with consistent vitamin D intake over the 10 years prior to blood draw. Compared with women in the lowest quartile, for plasma 25(OH)D, women in the second (OR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.41-1.00) and third (OR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.36-0.95) quartiles were at a statistically significantly lower risk of distal colorectal adenoma, but there was no difference in risk in the top quartile (OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.66-1.66). We conclude that women who have low levels of circulating 1,25(OH)2D may be at higher risk of distal colorectal adenomas, but additional study is warranted.

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