18. January 2024

Vitamin D for the prevention of oral cancer

The role of vitamin D as an important player in health and the regulation of the immune system has been known for years 1. Especially in winter, an adequate supply of vitamin D supports the body’s defenses and reduces the risk of respiratory infections 2. Also in the case of oral dysplasia, which are characterized as precursors to malignant oral cancer, vitamin D appears to be of increasing importance 3.

These so-called OPMDs (oral potentially malignant disorders) are characterized by histopathologically specific lesions in the oral cavity. The latest data underlines the link between vitamin D deficiency and the development of oral dysplasia and the risk of malignant oral cancer 3. It is already known that vitamin D supports the physical barrier in the oral cavity and contributes to functional oral health 4. In this context it is also important to note that vitamin D can both inhibit and permanently alter the growth of cancer cells and induce cell death 5–7. Furthermore, vitamin D is able to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory molecules and initiate anti-inflammatory processes so that chronic inflammation, which plays a decisive role in the development of cancer, is prevented 3. Vitamin D has numerous effects and enables a variety of therapeutic concepts that can be implemented in the future. A vitamin D-rich diet, by an addition of vitamin D in food as well as in the form of separate supplements, could prove to be a valid strategy to reduce the probability of malignant progression 3. Therefore, determination and optimization of vitamin D levels can help to minimize the risk of disease and improve oral health.



  1. Charoenngam, N. & Holick, M. F. Immunologic Effects of Vitamin D on Human Health and Disease. Nutrients 12, 2097 (2020).
  2. Hamza, F. N. et al. Immunomodulatory Properties of Vitamin D in the Intestinal and Respiratory Systems. Nutrients 15, 1696 (2023).
  3. Khamis, A., Salzer, L., Schiegnitz, E., Stauber, R. H. & Gül, D. The Magic Triangle in Oral Potentially Malignant Disorders: Vitamin D, Vitamin D Receptor, and Malignancy. Int J Mol Sci 24, (2023).
  4. Jagelavičienė, E., Vaitkevičienė, I., Šilingaitė, D., Šinkūnaitė, E. & Daugėlaitė, G. The relationship between vitamin D and periodontal pathology. Medicina (Lithuania) vol. 54 Preprint at https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina54030045 (2018).
  5. Fernández-Barral, A. et al. Vitamin D Effects on Cell Differentiation and Stemness in Cancer. Cancers 2020, Vol. 12, Page 2413 12, 2413 (2020).
  6. Samuel, S. & Sitrin, M. D. Vitamin D’s role in cell proliferation and differentiation. Nutr Rev 66, S116–S124 (2008).
  7. Snegarova, V. & Naydenova, D. Vitamin D: a Review of its Effects on Epigenetics and Gene Regulation. Folia Med (Plovdiv) 62, 662–667 (2020).


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