May 2, 2014
Lack Of Vitamin D Can Be A Marker For Prostate Cancer
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
In the past, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to conditions such as bone pain and muscle weakness – but a new report has found that a lack of the “sunshine vitamin” is related to a higher risk for aggressive prostate cancer.
"Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that is known to affect the growth and differentiation of benign and malignant prostate cells in prostate cell lines and in animal models of prostate cancer," said study author Dr. Adam B. Murphy, a urologist at the Northwestern University in Chicago. "In our study, vitamin D deficiency seemed to be a predictor of aggressive forms of prostate cancer diagnosis in European-American and African-American men.”
"The stronger associations in African-American men imply that vitamin D deficiency is a bigger contributor to prostate cancer in African-American men compared with European-American men," he added. "Vitamin D supplementation may be a relevant strategy for preventing prostate cancer incidence and/or tumor progression in prostate cancer patients."
In the study, researchers evaluated information gathered from a group of over 600 men from the greater Chicago area. Each participant was tested for vitamin D deficiency prior to having a prostate biopsy.
The researchers said they were shocked to discover that vitamin D deficiency appeared to be a predictor of intense types of prostate cancer medical diagnosis in both ethnic groups of men, even with the consideration of probable confounding factors such as diet, smoking habits, being overweight, family history and calcium consumption.
"These men, with severe vitamin D deficiency, had greater odds of advanced grade and advanced stage of tumors within or outside the prostate," Murphy told Northwestern's Erin White.
White and African American participants had nearly 3.7 times and 4.9 times higher odds of being diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer respectively. African-American participants with severe vitamin D deficiency also had 2.4 times higher odds of having any form of prostate cancer.
"Vitamin D deficiency is more common and severe in people with darker skin and it could be that this deficiency is a contributor to prostate cancer progression among African-Americans," Murphy said. "Our findings imply that vitamin D deficiency is a bigger contributor to African-American prostate cancer."
Murphy said the next stage of his research will most likely include a genetic component.
"We will next evaluate genetic polymorphisms in the pathways of vitamin D metabolism to better understand the risk alleles underlying this association," Murphy said. "Vitamin D deficiency seems to be important for general wellness and may be involved in the formation or progression of several human cancers.”
Because vitamin D deficiency can often go undetected, Murphy suggested at-risk males should be screened regularly.
"It is a good idea to get your levels checked on a yearly basis," Murphy said. "If you are deficient, you and you doctor can make a plan on how to reverse it through diet, supplements or other therapies."