Major Link Between Low Levels of Vitamin D, Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Courtesy of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Northwestern Medicine research showed deficient vitamin D blood levels in men can predict aggressive prostate cancer identified at the time of surgery.

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,” said lead investigator Adam Murphy, M.D., an assistant professor of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine urologist. “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.”

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Previous studies showing an association between vitamin D levels and aggressive prostate cancer were based on blood drawn well before treatment. The Northwestern study provides a more direct correlation because it measured D levels within a couple of months before the tumor was visually identified as aggressive during surgery to remove the prostate (radical prostatectomy.) According to Murphy, all should be replenishing their vitamin D to normal levels as it is a preventive health care. 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 1 ½ times more likely to have vitamin D deficiency than Caucasian men.

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