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An adequate vitamin D supply may reduce prostate cancer risk

Published on

12 May 2014

A new US study reports that low blood vitamin D concentrations seem to be related to an increased chance of developing prostate cancer.

The observational study measured blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in 667 men, between the ages of 40 and 79, who had undergone a prostate biopsy following detection of abnormal prostate-specific antigen and/or digital rectal examinations (1). The study results showed that participants with low vitamin D levels were significantly more likely to have a high-grade canker diagnosed on biopsy: a 3.7 times higher chance in European-Americans below 30 nmol/L and a 4.9 times higher chance in African-Americans below 50 nmol/L. In total, approximately 40% of the participants were found to be vitamin D deficient (defined as below
50 nmol/L, while the Institute of Medicine defines deficient as below 30 nmol/L and above 50 nmol/L as sufficient).

The researchers commented that because the average diet is not particularly rich in vitamin D, supplemen- tation and/or spending time in the sun are important. People with darker, more pigmented skin need to spend more time in the sun to synthesize and maintain normal vitamin D levels. An earlier study reported that daily intakes of 4000 IU vitamin D3 and average serum vitamin D concentrations of 82 nmol/L signi- ficantly reduced the risk of cancer diagnosis on biopsies (2). Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of death in American men; lung cancer is number one.


  1. Murphy A. B. et al. Vitamin D deficiency predicts prostate biopsy outcomes. Clin Cancer Res. Published online May 2014.
  2. Marshall D. T. et al. Vitamin D3 supplementation at 4000 international units per day for one year results in a decrease of positive cores at repeat biopsy in subjects with low-risk prostate cancer under active surveillance. JCEM. 2012; 97(7):2315–2324.

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