New research suggests that prostate cancer may be more aggressive in men who are deficient in vitamin D.
A study of nearly 200 men having their prostate removed found those with low vitamin D levels were more likely to have rapidly growing tumors than those with normal levels of the “sunshine” vitamin.
Some physicians think that if men with vitamin D deficiency are more likely to have more advanced disease at the time of prostate surgery, that it is possible men should be tested for this when they are diagnosed with prostate cancer. They have suggested that it might be a good idea to supplement the patients with vitamin D if they are deficient.
However, many other physicians believe that there is not enough evidence to recommend vitamin D supplements to either prevent prostate cancer or make it less aggressive.
The human body gets vitamin D from certain foods. These include fortified products (such as milk, orange juice and cereal), and certain fish (such as salmon), according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The body also makes the vitamin when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Dark-skinned people have more melanin, which prevents burning.
The study included 190 men having prostate surgery. The researchers found that nearly 46 percent of the men had aggressive cancer, and these men had vitamin D levels about 16 percent lower than men with slower-growing tumors.
After accounting for age, PSA levels and abnormal rectal exams, researchers found that vitamin D levels below 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood were linked to higher odds of aggressive prostate cancer.
The report was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.