Vitamin D Deficiency Increases Risk of Prostate Cancer

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois have found that men at high risk for prostate cancer stand a bigger chance of being diagnosed with more aggressive and advanced forms of the disease if they are deficient in vitamin D. A deficiency could be an indicator of “advanced prostate tumor progression in large segments of the general population,” according to Adam Murphy, M.D., a Northwestern urologist, the lead researcher.

The findings emerged from a study of 667 European American and African American men, ages 40-79, who underwent initial prostate biopsies. Until this investigation, the association between vitamin D status and prostate biopsy outcomes in men with elevated PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels has not been evaluated.

In the study, deficiencies of vitamin D were linked to a 3.5 times increased risk of an aggressive tumor and about a 2.5 times increased risk for an advanced tumor among European Americans. For African Americans, the increased risk was nearly 5 times and 4.2 times, respectively.

 My Viewpoint: Vitamin D deficiency is very common, a shortfall that can affect your cardiovascular health and weaken your immune system, as I have written previously. We just aren’t getting enough D from sunlight and from our diet. Vitamin D supports male health. A deficiency has also been suggested as a risk factor for erectile dysfunction.

 What This Means: Vitamin D functions more like a hormone than a vitamin. It is important for smooth functioning of the physiology. Deficiency is associated with many different health problems, as researchers are repeatedly reporting.

 My Recommendation: Your medical checkups should include a blood test for vitamin D. You want a healthy level between 40-60 ng/mL. How to get there if you are low? Try to expose yourself to some sunshine daily from 10 am to 2 pm. Here’s an article I wrote about the importance of sunlight. Even simpler is taking an inexpensive vitamin D supplement, available at any health food store or drug store. I suggest a daily dosage of 2,000 international units. More may be needed for people with compromised health.

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