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Cancers (Basel). 2013 Nov 22;5(4):1577-600. doi: 10.3390/cancers5041577.

Surrogates of long-term vitamin d exposure and ovarian cancer risk in two prospective cohort studies.

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Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, 181 Longwood Ave. Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Experimental evidence and ecologic studies suggest a protective role of vitamin D in ovarian carcinogenesis. However, epidemiologic studies using individual level data have been inconsistent. We evaluated ultraviolet (UV)-B radiation, vitamin D intake, and predicted plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels as long-term surrogates of vitamin D exposure within the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and NHSII. We estimated incidence rate ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for risk of overall ovarian cancer and by histologic subtype using Cox proportional hazards models. Between 1976 and 2010 in NHS and 1989 and 2011 in NHSII, we identified a total of 1,225 incident epithelial ovarian cancer cases (NHS: 970, NHSII: 255) over 4,628,648 person-years of follow-up. Cumulative average UV-B exposure was not associated with ovarian cancer risk in NHS (Ptrend = 0.08), but was associated with reduced risk in NHSII (highest vs. lowest category RR = 0.67; 95% CI: 0.50, 0.89; Ptrend < 0.01). When stratified by histologic subtype, UV-B flux was positively associated with risk of serous tumors in NHS (Ptrend < 0.01), but inversely associated in NHSII (Ptrend = 0.01). Adjusted for confounders, ovarian cancer risk was not associated with vitamin D intake from food or supplements or with predicted 25(OH)D levels. Our study does not strongly support a protective role for vitamin D in ovarian cancer risk.

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