A vitamin D deficiency has now been linked to aggressive prostate cancer. "Vitamin D deficiency could be a biomarker of advanced prostate tumour progression in large segments of the general population," said Adam B. Murphy, Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.
More research is needed, but it would be wise for men to be screened for vitamin D deficiency and treated, Murphy added. "This is the first study to look at vitamin D deficiency and biopsy outcomes in men at high risk of prostate cancer," informed Rick Kittles, an associate professor in the department of medicine at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
To reach this conclusion, scientists examined data collected from a diverse group of more than 600 men from the Chicago area who had elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels or other risk factors for prostate cancer.
Each man was screened for vitamin D deficiency before undergoing a prostate biopsy. The authors were surprised to find that vitamin D deficiency seemed to be a predictor of aggressive forms of prostate cancer diagnosis in African-American and European-American men.
"These men, with severe vitamin D deficiency, had greater odds of advanced grade and advanced stage of tumours within or outside the prostate," Murphy added.
Unless it is severe, vitamin D deficiency is fairly asymptomatic, so more effort needs to be put on screening. It is a good idea to get your levels checked on a yearly basis, said the study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.