Vitamin D reduces pain, infections in palliative cancer patients
Vitamin D supplementation in palliative cancer patients improves pain in the first month and reduces infections in the third month after treatment, a new matched case-control study has shown. Moreover, vitamin D supplementation appears to be safe and well tolerated.
In the study, 39 palliative cancer patients (mean age 62±13 years; 21 females) were given vitamin D supplements per day and showed significantly lower baseline quality of life (QoL), as measured by the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS), compared with 39 matched untreated controls (5.5 vs 4.1; p=0.02).
ESAS QoL showed slight improvements in the vitamin D group (adjusted mean difference [MD], -1.4; 95 percent CI, -2.6 to -0.21) 1 month after treatment, which resulted in an insignificant difference between the two groups.
Higher number of days on antibiotic therapy in the vitamin D group and a corresponding shorter antibiotic duration in controls led to a decreasing trend of infections in the vitamin D group 1 month after treatment. At 3 months, infections were significantly lower in the vitamin D group than in controls (adjusted MD, -26 percent; -41 to -12 percent).
Vitamin D supplementation did not cause unwanted and adverse side effects, such as hypercalcaemia, in the cancer patients.
All patients enrolled were adults, had incurable cancers regardless of type and serum 25-OHD levels <75 nmol/L. Controls were matched according to age, sex, cancer type and 25-OHD level and were taken from a previous observational study at the same ward. Vitamin D3 supplements (cholecalciferol) were administered at a dose of 4,000 IE per day.