Vitamin D and Gastrointestinal Cancers: A Narrative Review

  • Hemant GoyalEmail author
  • Abhilash Perisetti
  • M. Rubayat Rahman
  • Avi Levin
  • Giuseppe Lippi


Calcitriol (1,25(OH)2D3) performs various activities throughout the body. Although low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels are associated with several disease processes such as risk of fractures and falls, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes mellitus, recent evidence attests that this important hormone also regulates several cellular pathways involved in cancer development and progression. Calcitriol modulates several genes controlling gut physiology and calcium homeostasis and also maintains the integrity of epithelial barriers, regulates the absorption of phosphate and calcium, and modulates host defense against pathogens and inflammatory response by interplaying with several types of secretory and immune cells. Vitamin D deficiency is significantly related to increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. This deficiency can be prevented by vitamin D supplementation which is both economical and safe. This can lower the risk of developing cancer and also improve the prognosis of patients with gastrointestinal malignancy, but epidemiological data remain inconsistent. Several retrospective observational studies have demonstrated the benefits of vitamin D supplementation, but a few randomized controlled trials have not seemingly supported the beneficial role of vitamin D supplementation in gastrointestinal cancers. Therefore, in this literature review, we aimed to examine the possible role of vitamin D in gastrointestinal malignancies, including gastric, esophageal, pancreatic, hepatic, and colorectal cancers.


Vitamin D 1,25(OH)2D3 Calcidiol [25(OH)D] Gastrointestinal cancer Calcitriol VDR 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical statement

This manuscript writing and submission is in compliance with the DDS Journal guidelines. This manuscript, as submitted or its essence in another version, is not under consideration for publication elsewhere and will not be published elsewhere while under consideration by Digestive Diseases and Sciences. All authors have made substantive contributions to the study, and all authors endorse the data and conclusions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mercer University School of MedicineMaconUSA
  2. 2.University of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA
  3. 3.Carver College of Medicine, University of IowaIowa CityUSA
  4. 4.Section of Clinical BiochemistryUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly

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