According to a new study from Northwestern, African-American and European-American men at high risk of prostate cancer are more likely to be diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease if they have a vitamin D deficiency. The results were published in May of 2014 in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association of Cancer Research.
Previous studies on prostate cancer and vitamin D focused on men either with or without prostate cancer. This is the first study to look at vitamin D deficiency and biopsy outcomes in men who are at high risk of developing prostate cancer.
Scientists examined data collected from a diverse group of more than 600 men from the Chicago area who had exhibited strong risk factors for prostate cancer. Each man was screened for vitamin D deficiency before undergoing a prostate biopsy.
The study found that white men with vitamin D deficiencies were nearly four times more likely to have aggressive prostate cancer than those with normal levels of the vitamin. And black men were nearly five times more likely to have aggressive prostate cancer – even after adjusting for risk factors including diet, smoking habits, obesity, family history and calcium intake.
It is important for men to be screened for vitamin D deficiency and treated, particularly African American men. Vitamin D deficiency is more common and severe in people with darker skin and there are often no symptoms of a deficiency, unless it is severe.