Vitamin D and prostate cancer have been linked because some studies have shown that it may be possible to prevent and treat prostate cancer with Vitamin D. In the early 1990s, many scientists were already studying this connection between Vitamin D and prostate cancer. Vitamin D, also referred to as the sunshine vitamin, is mostly needed by the body for calcium absorption, and in the regulation of the amount of phosphorous and calcium in the blood. Prostate cancer is a malignancy that develops in the prostate gland of, mostly, older men. The prostate gland is an organ that produces fluid during the ejaculation of semen.
These studies revealed that men with deficiency in Vitamin D, or those with decreased sun exposure, have increased risks of developing prostate cancer. The risk is also higher in older men due to reduced synthesis of Vitamin D as a result of old age. Dark-skinned individuals also absorb less sunshine vitamin than those who are light-skinned. For instance, a 15-minute sun exposure each day is often enough for a fair-skinned person, while someone with dark skin may need about 45 minutes of sun exposure to have an adequate supply of Vitamin D.
Scientists also found that prostate cancer cells contain receptors for Vitamin D. They noted that Vitamin D may be able to inhibit or slow down the growth of some prostate cancer cells. These findings made them encourage men of all ages to get an adequate amount of sun exposure, as well as to eat foods rich in Vitamin D in order to prevent the onset or help stop the progress of prostate cancer. Examples of foods rich in Vitamin D are cereals with added vitamin D, oysters, fish, and dairy products like butter, cheese, and fortified milk. Vitamin D supplements are also available.
In 2009, additional studies on Vitamin D and prostate cancer were done on 26 men. These men, diagnosed with prostate cancer, were given Vitamin D supplements, and the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in their blood was measured thereafter. PSA is a substance in the blood which is elevated in many patients with prostate cancer. Results from the said study, showed that there was a marked decrease in the PSA level in most of the participants. The researchers, however, emphasized that more studies are still needed on a larger scale to explore this relationship between Vitamin D and prostate cancer.
Results from such studies linking Vitamin D and prostate cancer may drive some men to increase their intake of vitamin D. This is usually not advisable because excessive intake of Vitamin D can be toxic to the body. Too much Vitamin D can lead to the formation of kidney stones and muscle weakness.