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Keywords:

  • cancer risk;
  • overall mortality;
  • vitamin D;
  • 25(OH)D;
  • VDR

Summary

Vitamin D is a steroid molecule, mainly produced in the skin that regulates the expression of a large number of genes. Several meta-analyses of epidemiological studies support the evidence that low vitamin D serum level, which is highly prevalent worldwide, could be a ‘new’ risk factor for many chronic diseases including cancer, and for all-cause mortality. A meta-analysis in healthy subjects suggested that current doses of vitamin D supplements could be associated with decrease in total mortality rates. However, these associations are insufficient to establish causality between vitamin D and all-cause mortality. Furthermore, long-term health effects of high doses of vitamin D, that is, prolonged supplementation and association with different baseline vitamin D levels, remain to be investigated. Several trials are ongoing but population-based, placebo-controlled randomized trials with total mortality as the main endpoint should be planned to confirm a real beneficial effect of vitamin D for non-skeletal diseases and to prove causality.