Vitamin D3 News
Breaking news from: May 2009
Vol 1, No 5
In This Issue
Prostate cancer has a good year
This issue is focused on prostate cancer. The relationship between Vitamin D and prostate cancer had previously been confusing. This year two new studies emerged showing Vitamin D may result in remarkable benefits for prostate cancer patients.  Since nearly everyone knows someone with prostate cancer, we decided to devote this brief update to these recent developments.
2009 Sees Progress in Prostate Cancer
Early epidemiology studies showed prostate cancer to be most common in Northern regions of the world. In addition, prostate cancer patients living in the North appeared to progress faster and die sooner than those living in the South. These findings were similar to those of other forms of cancer. Differences in Vitamin D levels were thought to offer an explanation. 
studies where then published which suggested there was no association between Vitamin D levels and prostate cancer.  But somewhat concerning was a suggestion that very high levels of Vitamin D were associated with an increased risk of aggressive disease. (1,2) 
Then in early 2009 The British Journal of Cancer published some very positive findings showing high Vitamin D levels had a very positive effect on the risk of death from prostate cancer. (3)
In this study, Vitamin D levels were measured in 160 patients with advanced prostate cancer. The patients were stratified into three groups according to low (<20ng/ml), medium (20-32ng/ml) or high (>32ng/ml) Vitamin D levels.
The patients were followed for a median of 44 months. The risk of death during that time was found to be significantly less for those in the medium and high Vitamin D groups. The risk of death in the mid group was reduced by 60% and in the high level group by 85%. This is almost a seven fold increase in the risk of death in those with low compared to high vitamin D levels.
As this was a prospective study and showed a strong dose response it adds considerable strength to the body of data on Vitamin D. We now have similar effects demonstrated in all four of the most common and dangerous forms of cancer: prostate, breast, colon and lung cancer.

Then in May 2009 preliminary results from a study by Professor Waxman at Imperial College in London were released. After noting a prostate cancer patient PSA levels had dropped after the patient's wife had given him Vitamin D, Waxman started a small trial to study the effect in advanced prostate cancer.
Out of 26 men with recurrent prostate cancer who took approximately 1000IU of Vitamin D daily, five responded to the treatment. In two patients the PSA levels fell by more than 50%, in two by 25-50% and in one man just less than 25%. Effects were sustained for as long as 36 months. This result is quite remarkable considering the low dose used. 
A clinical trial in prostate cancer is being conduced in Canada using a dose of 40,000IU Vitamin D3 per day.  To our knowledge no trial has ever been conducted using such high doses. 
These two trials strongly suggest that at the very least, no prostate cancer patient should be left in a state of Vitamin D insufficiency and all patients should talk to their physician and ensure they have their levels checked.

(1) Both high and low levels of blood vitamin D are associated with a higher prostate cancer risk: a longitudinal, nested case control study in the nordic countries. Int J Cancer 108: 104-108 Tuohimaa P, etal (2004)  
(2)Serum vitamin D concentration and prostate cancer risk: A nested case-control study. J Natl Cancer Inst 100: 796-804,
2008 Ahn J,et al
(3)Association between serum 25(OH)D and death from Prostate Cancer. Brit J Cancer 2009,100,450-454 Tretli S et al.
Editorial Comments:
Good prospective data on Vitamin D is steadily emerging. However, as the molecule is cheap and non patentable, industry has little interest in investing large sums of money to more clearly define its role in cancer prevention and treatment. No matter how much data emerges, many oncologists insist we must wait for large confirmatory studies before encouraging patients to take Vitamin D.  While such studies may be necessary to confirm cause and effect, there is no justification for leaving patients in a deficient state. Fortunately the weight of data is now so great that many major cancer institutions have been forced to start clinical trials with Vitamin D. We are following them closely. Be sure to pass on this information to anyone you know with prostate cancer.