Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of prostate cancer, but a recent study from Northwestern University published in Clinical Cancer Research looks more closely at the association between vitamin D and prostate biopsy outcomes. A prostate biopsy is the usual method by which a urologist measures the existence and severity of prostate cancer.
Researchers compared the serum vitamin D levels of men with abnormal prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and/or digital rectal exam (DRE) with the men’s biopsy results. They obtained the serum vitamin D levels from 667 men who ranged in age from 40 to 79 years. The men were prospectively enrolled from Chicago urology clinics and undergoing their first prostate biopsy.
The researchers found that the results varied based on race. Researchers concluded, “In African American men, vitamin D deficiency was associated with increased odds of prostate cancer diagnosis on biopsy.” In both European American men and African American men, severe vitamin D deficiency was positively associated with a higher Gleason grade (the measure of severity of the cancer) and tumor stage.
Vitamin D is an important nutrient for men’s prostate health. Vitamin D health benefits include helping to managing symptoms of enlarged prostate and prostatitis, maintaining nerve function, and helping to build strong bones.
The body makes vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. Many men have vitamin D deficiency because they do not get enough sunlight, plus foods containing vitamin D are not the best way to get enough of this vitamin. That is why many men take a vitamin D supplement. The Vitamin D Council recommends taking 5000 IU of vitamin D each day.
Your physician can test your vitamin D levels with a blood test. If you have low vitamin D levels you might consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Taking a vitamin D supplement and getting screened for prostate cancer may help you protect your prostate and stay informed about your prostate health and risk factors.
It is important to consider your family history and race and how these can affect your risk factors for prostate cancer. While those are factors you cannot control, you can make sure to protect your prostate health by making sure you have sufficient vitamin D and live a healthy lifestyle.
Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.
Murphy AB et al. Vitamin D deficiency predicts prostate biopsy outcomes. Clin Cancer Res 2014 May 1; 20(9); 2289–99.