“If measurement is impossible, we would suggest that all patients with breast, colorectal or pancreatic cancer receive 10,000 IU/day of vitamin D3. It is worth noting that vitamin D2 is ineffective against cancer, and should not be used at all,” said Garland.

He noted that some pharmacies fill vitamin D prescriptions with vitamin D2 or its metabolites. Garland said physicians should make sure that the prescription form is for vitamin D3 and should specify that the pharmacy “Dispense as written.”

The University of California, San Diego researchers had previously identified an association of high latitude with a higher risk of pancreatic cancer.

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Garland said the new study advances that finding by showing that an estimate of solar ultraviolet B that has been adjusted for heavy cloud cover produces an even stronger prediction of risk of pancreatic cancer.

Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, who is the Director of University Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, said it is important to note that this is an observational study and really only provides a look at the possible role of vitamin D in pancreatic cancer prevention. She said it does not establish a cause and effect relationship.

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“The role of vitamin D and pancreatic cancer needs to be assessed through a better designed study before any statements can be made about vitamin D and prevention of pancreatic cancer,” Diekman told Cancer Therapy Advisor.

“However, having a normal blood level of vitamin D is important to overall health. Because we obtain the majority of our vitamin D from the sun, knowing more about vitamin D levels and cancer risk would be helpful especially in light of current guidelines that recommend limiting sun exposure. Assessment of vitamin D levels, and providing guidance to achieve normal levels would be an important part of care for those at risk for or who have pancreatic cancer.”


  1. Garland CF, Cuomo RE, Gorhama ED. et al. Cloud cover-adjusted ultraviolet B irradiance and pancreatic cancer incidence in 172 countries. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. April 9, 2015. [Epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2015.04.004.