The active metabolite of vitamin D apart from a crucial role in maintaining mineral homeostasis and skeletal functions, has antiproliferative, apoptosis and differentiation inducing as well as immunomodulatory effects in cancer. It is well known that with increasing sunshine exposure the incidence of breast, prostate and colorectal cancer is decreasing. A number of in vitro and in vivo experiments documented the effects of vitamin D in the inhibition of the tumorigenesis. In studying the role of vitamin D in cancer, it is imperative to examine the potential pathways that control local tissue levels of vitamin D. The enzyme 24-hydroxylase converts the active vitamin D to inactive metabolite. Extra-renal production of this enzyme is observed and has been increasingly recognized as present in cancer cells. This enzyme is rate limiting for the amount of local vitamin D in cancer tissues and elevated expression is associated with an adverse prognosis. 24-hydroxylase may be a predictive marker of vitamin D efficacy in patients with cancer as an adjunctive therapy. There are many vitamin D analogs with no pronounced hypercalcemizing effects. Some analogs are in phase 1 and 2 clinical test, and they might have a role in the therapy of several types of cancer. At present our main task is to make an effort to decrease the vitamin D deficiency in Hungary.
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