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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2014 May;61(5):885-93. doi: 10.1002/pbc.24882. Epub 2014 Jan 7.

Calcium and cholecalciferol supplementation provides no added benefit to nutritional counseling to improve bone mineral density in survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee; University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee.



We sought to improve lumbar spine bone mineral density (LS-BMD) in long-term survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) using calcium and cholecalciferol supplementation.


This double-blind, placebo-controlled trial randomized 275 participants (median age, 17 [9-36.1] years) with age- and gender-specific LS-BMD Z-scores <0 to receive nutritional counseling with supplementation of 1,000 mg/day calcium and 800 International Unit cholecalciferol or placebo for 2 years. The primary outcome was change in LS-BMD assessed by quantitative computerized tomography (QCT) at 24 months. Linear regression models were employed to identify the baseline risk factors for low LS-BMD and to compare LS-BMD outcomes.


Pre-randomization LS-BMD below the mean was associated with male gender (P = 0.0024), White race (P = 0.0003), lower body mass index (P < 0.0001), and cumulative glucocorticoid doses of ≥ 5,000 mg (P = 0.0012). One hundred eighty-eight (68%) participants completed the study; 77% adhered to the intervention. Mean LS-BMD change did not differ between survivors randomized to supplements (0.33 ± 0.57) or placebo (0.28 ± 0.56). Participants aged 9-13 years and those 22-35 years had the greatest mean increases in LS-BMD (0.50 ± 0.66 and 0.37 ± 0.23, respectively). Vitamin D insufficiency (serum 25[OH]D <30 ng/ml) found in 296 (75%), was not associated with LS-BMD outcomes (P = 0.78).


Cholecalciferol and calcium supplementation provides no added benefit to nutritional counseling for improving LS-BMD among adolescent and young adult survivors of ALL (93% of whom had LS-BMD Z-scores above the mean at study entry).


ALL; childhood cancer survivor; cholecalciferol; controlled trial; vitamin D

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