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Exploring causality in the association between circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D and colorectal cancer risk: a large Mendelian randomisation study

He, Y; Timofeeva, M; Farrington, SM; Vaughan-Shaw, P; Svinti, V; Walker, M; Zgaga, L; ... Dunlop, MG; + view all (2018) Exploring causality in the association between circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D and colorectal cancer risk: a large Mendelian randomisation study. BMC Medicine , 16 , Article 142. 10.1186/s12916-018-1119-2. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Whilst observational studies establish that lower plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) levels are associated with higher risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), establishing causality has proven challenging. Since vitamin D is modifiable, these observations have substantial clinical and public health implications. Indeed, many health agencies already recommend supplemental vitamin D. Here, we explore causality in a large Mendelian randomisation (MR) study using an improved genetic instrument for circulating 25-OHD. / Methods: We developed a weighted genetic score for circulating 25-OHD using six genetic variants that we recently reported to be associated with circulating 25-OHD in a large genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis. Using this score as instrumental variable in MR analyses, we sought to determine whether circulating 25-OHD is causally linked with CRC risk. We conducted MR analysis using individual-level data from 10,725 CRC cases and 30,794 controls (Scotland, UK Biobank and Croatia). We then applied estimates from meta-analysis of 11 GWAS of CRC risk (18,967 cases; 48,168 controls) in a summary statistics MR approach. / Results: The new genetic score for 25-OHD was strongly associated with measured plasma 25-OHD levels in 2821 healthy Scottish controls (P = 1.47 × 10− 11), improving upon previous genetic instruments (F-statistic 46.0 vs. 13.0). However, individual-level MR revealed no association between 25-OHD score and CRC risk (OR 1.03/unit log-transformed circulating 25-OHD, 95% CI 0.51–2.07, P = 0.93). Similarly, we found no evidence for a causal relationship between 25-OHD and CRC risk using summary statistics MR analysis (OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.69–1.19, P = 0.48). / Conclusions: Despite the scale of this study and employing an improved score capturing more of the genetic contribution to circulating 25-OHD, we found no evidence for a causal relationship between circulating 25-OHD and CRC risk. Although the magnitude of effect for vitamin D suggested by observational studies can confidently be excluded, smaller effects sizes and non-linear relationships remain plausible. Circulating vitamin D may be a CRC biomarker, but a causal effect on CRC risk remains unproven.

Type: Article
Title: Exploring causality in the association between circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D and colorectal cancer risk: a large Mendelian randomisation study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12916-018-1119-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-018-1119-2
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Vitamin D, Colorectal cancer, Mendelian randomisation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124230
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