Prospective analyses have yet to uncover a consistent relationship between vitamin D status and incidence and mortality of rarer cancers including esophageal and upper gastrointestinal cancers. We searched PubMed for literature about the epidemiology of upper gastrointestinal cancers and vitamin D published over the last decade and then summarized and critiqued the results of these studies in this review. The search yielded nine relevant studies. Overall, no consistent relationship was reported between serum vitamin D levels or a surrogate and upper gastrointestinal cancers. Four studies reported negative correlations between vitamin D status and upper gastrointestinal cancer, three reported positive correlations, one reported no correlation, and one reported both positive and negative correlations. No relationship has been established on the basis of epidemiologic data, but studies examining sun exposure consistently report an inverse association with esophageal cancer. The current literature is limited by the methods used to assess vitamin D status, lack of specific data for the types of upper gastrointestinal cancer, and failure to establish a temporal relationship between vitamin D status assessment and presentation of upper gastrointestinal cancer. It is possible that the lack of a consistent relationship is a consequence of inaccurate and imprecise assessment of vitamin D status.
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