Study Shows Racial Disparities in Prostate Cancer May Be Reduced with Vitamin D Supplements

Study Shows Racial Disparities in Prostate Cancer May Be Reduced with Vitamin D Supplements
Racial disparities in prostate cancer occurrence may be partly explained by vitamin D deficiency, according to researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, who recently shed light on the mechanisms through which vitamin D deficiency may be associated with prostate cancer risk. The study, "Systems analysis of the prostate transcriptome in African–American men compared with European–American men," was published in Pharmacogenomics. It is well documented that African-American (AA) men have a higher risk of developing and dying from prostate cancer than European American (EA) men. Although the mechanisms underlying the disparities are not fully understood, vitamin D is thought to play an important part. Studies have shown that AA men exhibit a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, and that vitamin D can regulate the immune system to prevent prostate cancer initiation and progression. But the biological mechanisms underlying such association have not been uncovered. To understand the role of vitamin D in prostate cancer, the research team developed a prospective, placebo-controlled study with 27 patients (10 AA and 17 EA patients) who were already planning to undergo prostatectomy (surgery to remove all or part of the prostate). Each were assigned to receive either vitamin D (4,000 IU) or placebo for two months. The team aimed to identify gene expression differences between AA and EA men that could explain the disparities in prostate cancer outcomes and whether
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