Low levels of vitamin D has been linked to aggressive prostate cancer, US researchers say.
The research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, provides a major link between low levels of vitamin D and aggressive prostate cancer, the Blackmores Institute reports.
The research showed deficient vitamin D blood levels in men can predict aggressive prostate cancer identified at the time of surgery.
Researchers say the finding is “important because it can offer guidance to men and their doctors who may be considering active surveillance, in which they monitor the cancer rather than remove the prostate”.
“Vitamin D deficiency may predict aggressive prostate cancer as a biomarker,” says lead investigator Dr Adam Murphy, an assistant professor of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.
“Men with dark skin, low vitamin D intake or low sun exposure should be tested for vitamin D deficiency when they are diagnosed with an elevated PSA or prostate cancer. Then a deficiency should be corrected with supplements.”
Previous studies showing an association between vitamin D levels and aggressive prostate cancer were based on blood drawn well before treatment. However, this study provides a more direct correlation because it measured D levels within a couple of months before the tumour was visually identified as aggressive during surgery to remove the prostate (radical prostatectomy).
The relationship between vitamin D and prostate cancer may explain some disparities seen in prostate cancer, especially among African American men. Prior research by Murphy and colleagues showed African American men who live in low sunlight locations are up to 1½ times more likely to have vitamin D deficiency than Caucasian men.
According to Dr Murphy , as vitamin D is a biomarker for bone health and aggressiveness of other diseases, all men should check their levels,
“All men should be replenishing their vitamin D to normal levels,” he says. “It’s smart preventive healthcare.”
Aggressive prostate cancer is defined by whether the cancer has migrated outside of the prostate and by a high Gleason score. A low Gleason score means the cancer tissue is similar to normal prostate tissue and less likely to spread; a high one means the cancer tissue is very different from normal and more likely to spread.
The study was part of a larger ongoing study of 1,760 men in the Chicago area examining vitamin D and prostate cancer. The current study included 190 men, average age of 64, who underwent a radical prostatectomy to remove their prostate from 2009 to 2014.
Of that group, 87 men had aggressive prostate cancer. Those with aggressive cancer had a median level of 22.7 nanograms per milliliter of vitamin D, significantly below the normal level of more than 30 nanograms/milliliter. The average D level in Chicago during the winter is about 25 nanograms/milliliter, Murphy noted.
“It’s very hard to have normal levels when you work in an office every day,” he said. The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 international units of D per day, but Murphy recommends Chicago residents get 1,000 to 2,000 international units per day.
To read the abstract click here.