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Vitamin D may help low-risk prostate cancer

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By David Liu, PHD

Tuesday July 31, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Taking a higher than the recommended dose of vitamin D each day may help improve the condition of low-risk prostate cancer, according to a new study.

The study led by D.T. Marshall of the Medical University of South Carolina and colleagues found 55 percent of patients with low-risk prostate cancer improved their Gleason score after one year of vitamin D supplementation at the dose of 4000 IU per day.

For the study, the researchers let 52 patients who were diagnosed with low risk prostate cancer take vitamin D(3) soft gels (400 IU), monitored adverse events, measured PSA serum levels at baseline and every 2 months for one year.  Biopsy procedures were performed before enrollment and after the 1-year intervention.

No adverse effects were found associated with the vitamin D supplementation.  The intervention did not significantly lower the PSA levels.

However, 24 of 44 subjects (55%) were found to have a decreased number of positive cores or decreased Gleason score whereas five subjects (11%) did not experience any change and 15 subjects (34%) had an increased  number of positive cores or Gleason score.  High Gleason score indicates worse prognosis.

The researchers concluded "Patients with low-risk prostate cancer under active surveillance may benefit from vitamin D(3) supplementation at 4000 IU/d."

Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency has been associated with increased risk for 17 types of malignancies including prostate cancer, according to previous studies.

The study was reported online April 16, 2012 in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Prostate cancer is diagnosed in more than 240,000 American men each year and the disease is expected to kill about 30,000 a year in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute.  

Prostate cancer  is often not so aggressive, but can cause a lot of inconvenience.  Impotence is one adverse effect from treatment.  The disease is in many cases preventable.  Following a healthy lifestyle such as taking vitamin D supplements is believed to be important in reducing the risk of developing the disease.

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