Sunshine May Provide Prostate Protection
Prostate Cancer Risk Linked to Vitamin D From Sunlight
WebMD News Archive
Sun Exposure and Prostate Cancer
John, Brooks, and colleagues decided not to take a one-time measure of
vitamin D levels or to rely on people's estimates of sun exposure. They used a
device to compare skin pigmentation on a person's exposed skin to pigmentation
on that person's unexposed skin. They then calculated that person's sun
The researchers studied 450 non-Hispanic white Americans with prostate
cancer and compared them with 455 similar men without prostate cancer.
The bottom line: Those with high sun exposure were 49% less likely to have
The researchers also got blood samples from study participants. They looked
for vitamin D receptor genes.
People who carried genes for particularly effective vitamin D receptors were
54% to 33% less likely to have prostate cancer, depending on the gene
All this is very interesting to cancer researcher Jay Brooks, MD, chief of
hematology/oncology at the Ochsner Clinic in Baton Rouge, La.
"These are very interesting and intriguing observations," Brooks
tells WebMD. "One interesting thing is the vitamin D aspect. Another thing
is the cancer risk reduction with certain genes of an individual. We are
beginning to look at genetic markers that predict a risk of certain cancers. In
terms of prostate cancer, hopefully we will soon have improved medicines to
reduce the risk of cancer in these individuals."
Brooks warns that the current study does not prove vitamin D deficiency
causes prostate cancer. It's too soon, he says, for people to start taking
vitamin D in hopes of cutting their risk.
"Ten years ago we thought higher levels of vitamin A would help prevent
cancer, but now we know it ups the risk of lung cancer," Brooks says.
"This is interesting science, but until a randomized clinical trial is
done, it will not change our recommendations to patients."
Schwartz says scientists are only beginning to recognize the importance of
"My feeling is we are getting a better sense of vitamin D-deficiency
diseases," he says. "Prostate cancer does seem to resemble rickets in
this regard. We prevented rickets by putting vitamin D in milk. There is hope
we could prevent prostate cancer using the same kind of approach."