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Vitamin D supplementation associated with improvement in pain, infection in cancer patients

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Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.

November 3 2017. A case-control study reported on August 31, 2017 in PLOS One found less pain and infections in cancer patients receiving palliative care who were given vitamin D in comparison with those who did not receive the vitamin.

“Palliative cancer patients often suffer from pain and infections, which may reduce their quality of life and shorten their remaining life span,” observed authors Maria Helde-Frankling and her associates. “Since pharmacological treatment often has unwanted side effects, the palliative caregiver faces the challenge of treating disease related symptoms without causing harm.”

The study included 39 palliative cancer patients with insufficient serum levels of vitamin D who received 4,000 international units of vitamin D3 per day. The patients were matched for age, sex, cancer type, and other factors with an equal number of untreated subjects from a previous observational study.

There was no significant difference in opioid use between the groups at the beginning of the study. Fentanyl dose increased in the control group from 43 micrograms (mcg) per hour to 117 mcg/hour over the course of the three-month follow-up period, while dosage declined from 31 mcg/hour to 22 mcg/hour among those who received vitamin D. Among vitamin D-treated patients who were not being treated with opioid drugs at the beginning of the study, none began using the drugs over the course of follow-up, compared to half of the control group. Those who received vitamin D experienced fewer days on antibiotics compared to the control group, indicating less infection.

“To our knowledge, no results from randomized, clinical trials on vitamin D supplementation in palliative cancer patients have been published,” the authors announced. “Larger randomized, placebo-controlled studies are needed to confirm the results from this pilot-study before any form of conclusions can be drawn.”

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