In recent years, a vast amount of studies have centered on the role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of certain types of cancers such as breast, colorectal and lung cancer. Increasing evidence suggests that vitamin D and its receptor play a crucial role in the development of gynecological cancers. In this review, we systematically analyzed the effect of vitamin D and the vitamin D receptor on endometrial, ovarian, cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancer. Our literature research shows that vitamin D levels and vitamin-D-related pathways affect the risk of gynecological cancers. Numerous ecological studies give evidence on the inverse relationship between UVB exposure and gynecological cancer risk. However, epidemiologic research is still inconclusive for endometrial and ovarian cancer and insufficient for rarer types of gynecological cancers. The vitamin D receptor (VDR) is upregulated in all gynecological cancers, indicating its influence on cancer etiology. The VDR polymorphism FokI (rs2228570) seems to increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Other nuclear receptors, such as the RXR, also influence gynecological cancers. Although there is limited knowledge on the role of the VDR/RXR on the survival of endometrial, cervical, vulvar or vaginal cancer patients, some studies showed that both receptors influence survival. Therefore, we suggest that further studies should focus on the vitamin D- and its hetero dimer receptor RXR in gynecological cancers.
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