ToPCaP

The Potential of Vitamin D to Reduce Lethal Prostate Cancer

The Potential of Vitamin D to Reduce Lethal Prostate Cancer

Vitamin D plays a role in several biological mechanisms that may ultimately reduce the risk of fatal prostate cancer. Recently, in a prospective nested case-control study in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HFPS), we found that plasma 25-hydroxy-vitamin D was inversely associated with lethal rather than overall prostate cancer. Additionally, we found a suggestive association of common variation across several genes in the vitamin D pathway and prostate cancer risk. The expression of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) in the prostate is also associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer specific death. Our main objectives are to explore the hypothesis that vitamin D exposure is protective for lethal PCa on several levels by combining complementary biomarker data on plasma, genetic variation, and gene expression. Other objectives are to examine the influence of the vitamin D binding protein and to further examine the relationships between vitamin D and markers of tumor stem-ness and inflammation.

Increased knowledge about the role of vitamin D in the etiology of lethal prostate cancer has the potential to contribute to both prevention and treatment of lethal PCa. Vitamin D is a relatively easily modifiable factor. Given the large proportion of men in the United States that are deficient or at risk for deficiency, if the relationship is causal, efforts to encourage men to increase their vitamin D levels via supplementation could prevent development of lethal prostate cancer. Understanding the genes and mechanisms behind the hypothesized relationship could also impact secondary prevention efforts such as development of chemotherapeutics.