A new study suggests that low vitamin D levels can lead to highly aggressive prostate tumors. A report in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, showed that the lower the vitamin D level, the more aggressive the prostate cancer. The study adds to a growing body of information on the importance of vitamin D, including in the area of cancer.
In this most recent study, scientists measured blood levels of vitamin D in nearly 700 men who had first prostate biopsies at one of several Chicago-area urology clinics. Half the men were of European descent, while the other half were of African American descent.
Low vitamin D levels were associated with high-grade, more advanced tumors in both groups. In addition, among African American men, low vitamin D was also linked to a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Scientists suggest that because men with dark skin absorb less ultraviolet light from the sun than men of a lighter complexion, they tend to make less vitamin D. Prostate cancer is more common among African American men and their death rates from the disease are also higher.
While more research will need to be done, the findings of this study add to mounting evidence that vitamin D helps protect against prostate cancer and that a healthy lifestyle that includes safe sun exposure is one good way to lower the chances of developing the disease.
National guidelines recommend a daily vitamin D intake of 600 IU for men up to age 70 and 800 IU thereafter. Look for a high quality supplement that includes vitamin D-3 or cholecalciferol. This is most recommended because it is the natural form of vitamin D that your body makes from sunlight.