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© 2015 applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated. Background: There is increasing evidence that vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for cancer, however it remains uncertain whether vitamin D deficiency also predisposes to death from cancer. The aim of the study was to determine the association between serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25 (OH) D) concentrations and cancer-specific mortality in a community-based cohort of older post-menopausal women. Methods: Cox proportional regression analyses were conducted to examine the association between serum 25 (OH) D concentrations and the risk of overall and site-specific cancer mortality in a cohort of elderly women. Results: Over a median follow-up time of 10years, a total of 84 cancer deaths were observed. Women with lower serum 25 (OH) D concentrations were at an increased risk of cancer death, but not for incident cancer. The excess risk for cancer death was observed with serum 25 (OH) D concentration less than 64nmol/L (the median value) [adjusted HR: 1.61 (95% CI: 1.02 - 2.54, p=0.04]. For every 30nmol/L reduction in serum 25 (OH) D concentrations, there was a 30% increase in the overall risk of cancer death [adjusted HR: 1.33; 95% CI: 1.03 - 1.72, p=0.02]. The excess risk appeared to be site-specific and greatest in those with haematological cancers [adjusted HR: 2.13: 95% CI: 1.0 - 4.55, p=0.05]. Conclusions: In elderly women, lower serum 25 (OH) D concentrations appear to be an independent risk factor for cancer-specific mortality, but not a risk factor for the development of cancer.
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