Vitamin D’s odd connection to pancreas

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December 31, 2019 - 9:15 AM

Dear Dr. Roach: Are you aware of the possibility of pancreatitis resulting from long-term vitamin D2 supplementation? I was diagnosed with IPMN with chronic pancreatitis after being on 50,000 IU of vitamin D2 once a week for nine months. I had mild upper left quadrant pain, which I am told is quite unusual for pancreatic cysts. After doing some research, I decided to decrease and then stop the D2. As I did, cyst sizes and tumor markers both decreased. In addition, the pain resolved. I was fortunate enough to detect the connection, but have not had any interest from medical practitioners about looking into the possible link here. — J.D.

Answer: This is a complex issue, and it starts with your IPMN, which stands for “intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms” of the pancreas. These are tumors of the pancreas that are at risk for becoming cancerous.

The size is the biggest predictor of malignancy, so your doctors are likely monitoring the size of your tumors. Those less than 2 cm in size are at low risk for malignancy. “Malignant” and “cancerous” are synonymous terms, but the boundary between benign tumors and malignant ones is not as sharp a line as we used to think.

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