To assess whether higher plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] is associated with improved outcomes in colon cancer and whether circulating inflammatory cytokines mediate such association.

Experimental Design:

Plasma samples were collected from 1,437 patients with stage III colon cancer enrolled in a phase III randomized clinical trial (CALGB/SWOG 80702) from 2010 to 2015, who were followed until 2020. Cox regressions were used to examine associations between plasma 25(OH)D and disease-free survival (DFS), overall survival (OS), and time to recurrence (TTR). Mediation analysis was performed for circulating inflammatory biomarkers of C-reactive protein (CRP), IL6, and soluble TNF receptor 2 (sTNF-R2).


Vitamin D deficiency [25(OH)D <12 ng/mL] was present in 13% of total patients at baseline and in 32% of Black patients. Compared with deficiency, nondeficient vitamin D status (≥12 ng/mL) was significantly associated with improved DFS, OS, and TTR (all Plog-rank<0.05), with multivariable-adjusted HRs of 0.68 (95% confidence interval, 0.51–0.92) for DFS, 0.57 (0.40–0.80) for OS, and 0.71 (0.52–0.98) for TTR. A U-shaped dose–response pattern was observed for DFS and OS (both Pnonlinearity<0.05). The proportion of the association with survival that was mediated by sTNF-R2 was 10.6% (Pmediation = 0.04) for DFS and 11.8% (Pmediation = 0.05) for OS, whereas CRP and IL6 were not shown to be mediators. Plasma 25(OH)D was not associated with the occurrence of ≥ grade 2 adverse events.


Nondeficient vitamin D is associated with improved outcomes in patients with stage III colon cancer, largely independent of circulation inflammations. A randomized trial is warranted to elucidate whether adjuvant vitamin D supplementation improves patient outcomes.

You do not currently have access to this content.