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Deficiency Of Vitamin D Might Lead To Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Update Date: May 01, 2014 08:50 AM EDT

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, according to a new study. 

"Vitamin D deficiency could be a biomarker of advanced prostate tumor progression in large segments of the general population," said Adam B. Murphy, M.D., lead author of the study, in the press release. "More research is needed, but it would be wise for men to be screened for vitamin D deficiency and treated."

Researchers examined the data collected from a diverse group of more than 600 men from Chicago area who had elevated PSA levels or other risk factors for prostate cancer. The participants were also screened for vitamin D deficiency before undergoing a prostate biopsy. 

Surprisingly researchers found that vitamin D deficiency was a predictor of aggressive forms of prostate cancer diagnosis in African-American and European-American men. The findings were valid even after adjusting the potential confounders including diet, smoking habits, obesity, family history and calcium intake.

"These men, with severe vitamin D deficiency, had greater odds of advanced grade and advanced stage of tumors within or outside the prostate," Murphy said.

According to press release, European-American men and African-American men had 3.66 times and 4.89 times increased odds of having aggressive prostate cancer respectively and 2.42 times and 4.22 times increased odds of having tumor stage T2b or higher, respectively.

"Vitamin D deficiency is more common and severe in people with darker skin and it could be that this deficiency is a contributor to prostate cancer progression among African-Americans," Murphy added in the press release. "Our findings imply that vitamin D deficiency is a bigger contributor to African-American prostate cancer."

"This is the first study to look at vitamin D deficiency and biopsy outcomes in men at high risk of prostate cancer," said Rick Kittles, senior author of the study. "Previous studies focused on vitamin D levels in men either with or without prostate cancer."

Findings of the study will be published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research. 

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