The study, conducted by researchers at Northwestern University, tested 273 African-American men and 275 European-American men between the ages of 40 and 79. Their findings showed that African-American men with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 4.89 times more likely to be at risk for developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer. European-American men in the same group were 3.66 times more likely to be at risk.
Additionally, vitamin D deficient African-American men were 4.22 times more likely to have a stage T2b tumor – when cancer can be felt or seen on a scan, but is confined to the prostate. In comparison, European-American men with the lowest measured levels of vitamin D were 2.42 times more likely to have this type of tumor.
Vitamin D absorption, specifically from sun exposure, can be affected by skin color and researchers offer this as one explanation for why African-American men in the study showed increased risk, despite European-American men in the study having higher levels of vitamin D in their blood.
The signs and symptoms of a possible vitamin D deficiency can be very subtle, but may include fatigue, bone pain and muscle weakness.
“Vitamin D deficiency seems to be important for general wellness and may be involved in the formation or progression of several human cancers. It would be wise to be screened for vitamin D deficiency and treated,” said study author Dr. Adam B. Murphy, assistant professor in the Department of Urology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
To learn more about the study, click here.