Low Vitamin D Linked With Aggressive Prostate Cancer
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient most commonly linked with bone health. Now a recent study suggests that low vitamin D levels may also be linked with a higher risk of a diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer, especially in African-American men.
Participants in the study included 667 men between the ages of 40 and 79. Half of them were African-American and half were European-American. All of the men were going to have their first prostate biopsy following the discovery of abnormal prostate-specific antigen. 168 total participants were diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The African-American men had notably lower serum vitamin D levels, with an average 16.7 nanograms per milileter (ng/ml). The European-American men had an average 19.3 ng/ml. The highest recorded level for an African-American man was 45 ng/ml and for a European-American it was 71 ng/ml.
The researchers believe that the greater deficiency in African-American men could be partially due to the difficulty of their skin to absorb vitamin D from the sun, our primary source of this vital nutrient.
After examining the data, the researchers determined that a low vitamin D level was associated with a higher risk of diagnosis of prostate cancer after the biopsy in African-American men.
Additionally, a severe deficiency was associated with a higher Gleason grade and tumor stage in men of both races. The Gleason score indicates how aggressive your cancer is.
Researchers from Northwestern University, University of Illinois, Cook County Health and Hospitals System, Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center conducted the study. It was published in the May 2014 issue of Clinical Cancer Research.
Previous studies have associated vitamin D with reducing the risk of skin damage, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, combating diabetes, and improving age related macular degeneration.
Vitamin D can be found in milk, fortified cereals, fish, and eggs. Your body also processes vitamin D from the sun but it becomes harder for our bodies to process it as we age. A high quality vitamin D supplement is always a good option if you feel that you’re not getting enough through diet and sun.