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Br J Cancer. 2013 Oct 1;109(7):1997-2004. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2013.546. Epub 2013 Sep 5.

Association between serum 25(OH) vitamin D, incident liver cancer and chronic liver disease mortality in the Linxian Nutrition Intervention Trials: a nested case-control study.

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1] Department of Cancer Epidemiology, Cancer Institute/Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100021, China [2] Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.



Although vitamin D deficiency has been noted in cross-sectional studies of chronic liver disease and laboratory studies suggest possible benefits of vitamin D in preventing liver cancer, little epidemiologic data are available.


We performed a nested case-control study in the Linxian Nutrition Intervention Trials on participants developing incident liver cancer or dying from chronic liver disease over 22 years of follow-up. Baseline serum 25(OH) vitamin D was measured for 226 incident liver cancer cases, 282 chronic liver disease deaths and 1063 age-, sex- and trial-matched controls. Unconditional logistical regression models were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


The median serum vitamin D level in controls was low (20 nmol l(-1)). Compared with the lowest quartile, subjects in the fourth quartile had lower risk of chronic liver disease death (OR=0.34, 95% CI=0.21-0.55). For liver cancer incidence, risk estimates were below one, but were not statistically significant. Associations, however, were significant among participants with higher serum calcium levels (Q4 vs Q1, OR=0.43, 95% CI=0.21-0.89). Results for chronic liver disease did not vary by serum calcium level.


In a low vitamin D population, higher serum 25(OH) vitamin D concentrations were associated with significantly lower risk of chronic liver disease deaths, and among those with higher serum calcium, incident liver cancer. Our results suggest a possible protective role for vitamin D in these diseases.

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