Prostate cancer is the second main cause of death among American men, being surpassed only by lung cancer. It is estimated that one out of 38 men will die at some point because of this disease.
Despite such glooming statistics, scientists still haven’t been able to identify the exact element that puts it in motion, the only concrete explanation being that it is caused by changes in the DNA of a prostate cell.
However, a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology seems to provide more insight into this matter, by correlating low levels of vitamin D with the development of aggressive prostate cancers.
Dr. Adam Murphy, who is a Northwestern Medicine urologist and the lead author of this study, explains that their findings indicate that vitamin D deficiency can actually help predict aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
According to Dr. Murphy, men who either have a low sun exposure or low vitamin D intake or darker skin color should get tested for such a deficiency once they have been diagnosed with prostate cancer or an elevated PSA and then correct that deficiency through supplements.
The research was conducted on 190 men of about 64 years of age who had undergone a prostatectomy between 2009 and 2014. Their investigation was part of an ongoing study which assessed the vitamin D levels of 1760 men from Chicago.
Out of the 190 men included in this study, 87 of them presented an aggressive form of prostate cancer and also below average levels of vitamin D. According to the results, each of them had approximately 22.7 nanograms per milliliter of vitamin D in their system, while the normal amount is 30 nanograms per milliliter.
Dr. Murphy also suggests the fact that African American men who reside in low sunlight areas usually display lower levels of vitamin D than Caucasian men, which is why it is crucial for all men to examine their vitamin D levels and take concrete measures to correct them, as they could lead to serious health complications.
Because of the long hours that we spend in the office every day, it is very difficult to maintain our natural vitamin D intake at a normal level, which is why the Institute of Medicine recommends men to take 600 international units of vitamin D per day, while Dr. Murphy advises Chicago residents to take between 1,000-2,000 international units per day.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one men in seven is diagnosed with prostate cancer throughout his lifetime. It usually occurs in men older than 65, but there are rare occasions when it is discovered before the age of 40.
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