There are substantial preclinical and epidemiologic data that suggest that vitamin D plays a role in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Numerous observational studies have shown that low blood levels of 25(OH) vitamin D (cholecalciferol), estimated by geographical location, diet and activity assessment or measured serum levels are associated with a higher risk of cancer and worse cancer-specific survival as well as numerous morbidities to e.g. cardiovascular disease, stroke, infection, autoimmune disease, and neuromuscular dysfunction among large populations.

A considerable number of in vitro and in vivo studies indicate that the most active metabolite of vitamin D--1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol or calcitriol--has anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic, pro-differentiating, and anti-angiogenic properties.

Combined treatment of calcitriol and many types of cytotoxic agents has synergistic or at least additive effects. However, clinical trials testing these hypotheses have been less encouraging, though a number of methodological, pharmacological, and pharmaceutical issues confound all trials ever conducted. In order to properly assess the clinical value of vitamin D, its metabolites and analogs in cancer prevention and treatment, more studies are needed.