Vitamin D fights prostate cancer - new study

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A new study led by Dr. Edward Giovannucci of Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues suggests that vitamin D plays an important role in the lethality of prostate cancer.

The study reported in the May 2, 2011 issue of Journal of Clinical Oncology showed men with the expression of vitamin D receptors (VDR) at high levels tended to have less lethal prostate cancer.

Early studies have suggested circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D interacts with vitamin D receptors, decreasing proliferation and boosting apoptosis in some cancers.

In addition to the link between the VDR expression and the lethality of prostate cancer, Dr. Giovannucci et al. also examined the association between the VDR expression and prediagnosed serum 25(OH)D and 1,25hihydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and two VDR single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNP, namely fokI and BsmI.

The researchers found patients who had high VDR expression in tumor tissue had significantly lower levels of prostate specific antigen or PSA at diagnosis, lower Gleason Score, and lower tumor stage. Altogether, it means the prostate cancer is less aggressive.

Prostate cancers in those whose VDR expressions were in the highest quartile were 83 percent less likely lethal, compared with those who had the lowest quartile. 

After adjustment for Gleason score and PSA at diagnosis, the association became less strong, but remained significant.

High VDR expression means more interactions between vitamin D and VDR, resulting in a higher reduction in the progression of prostate cancer. But the study found neither plasma vitamin D prior to diagnosis nor VDR polymorphisms were not correlated with the VDR expression.

The study involved 841 patients with prostate cancer who were enrolled in two prospective cohorts, the Physicians' health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

The researchers concluded that high VDR expression in prostate cancer is correlated with a reduced risk of lethality of prostate cancer, suggesting that vitamin d plays a role in prostate cancer progression.

A health observer said the study suggests one thing men can do to reduce the risk of prostate cancer or have a better prognosis if they have contracted the disease is take high doses of vitamin D.

Dr. John Cannell, a vitamin D expert and director of Vitamin D Council suggests that for vitamin D to have a protective effect against cancer, the dose must be high enough.  For health people, 5000 IU of vitamin D may be the minimum they need to protect against cancer.

According to Vitamin D Council, some nutrients are needed for vitamin D to be utilized properly, including magnesium, zinc, vitamin k2, boron and a tiny amount of vitamin A.

Prostate cancer is diagnosed in about 200,000 American men each year and the disease kills about 40,000 men annually in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute.

David Liu

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