Can Vitamin D Keep Prostate Cancer At Bay?

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Vitamin D binds to the prostate tissue and controls cell division. It also reduces the levels of cell lipids and proteins responsible for inflammation. Men with healthy levels of vitamin D tend to have less aggressive prostate cancers and lower rates of death from cancer. Vitamin D also slows down and reverses the progression of less aggressive prostate tumors, reducing the need for surgery or radiation.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods. It is produced by your skin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Some foods are fortified with vitamin D, and this vitamin is also available as a dietary supplement.

Vitamin D, which is both a vitamin and a hormone, helps maintain the immune system, cardiovascular system, cholesterol level, blood sugar level, among others. Studies have shown that Vitamin D may also keep low-grade prostate cancer from becoming aggressive.

What is Prostate Cancer?

The prostate is a small gland found in men. It is about the size of a walnut and is part of the reproductive system. Prostate cancer occurs when prostate cells grow abnormally and form clumps called tumors.

The exact cause of prostate cancer has not yet been identified, but researchers think it is a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors. Hormones called androgens have been found to play an important role in the development of prostate cancer.

Research has shown that there is a link between vitamin D and prostate cancer. According to studies, men with prostate cancer tend to have lower levels of vitamin D. Also, men with healthy levels of vitamin D tend to have lower rates of death from prostate cancer and less aggressive cancers.1

According to the American Chemical Society, taking vitamin D supplements could slow or even reverse the progression of less aggressive, or low-grade prostate tumors without the need for surgery or radiation. In cases of low-grade prostate cancer, the patients mainly resort to surgery or radiation therapy, which is probably worse than the disease.

Some patients undergo an elective prostatectomy, despite the risk of complications such as infection, urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

According to a study by Dr. Hollis and his team, when men with low-grade prostate cancer took vitamin D supplements for a year, 55 percent of them showed decreased Gleason scores (a standard scale to determine the aggressiveness of a tumor) or even complete disappearance of their tumors compared to their biopsies a year before.2

Researchers of the Institute of Population-based Cancer Research, Oslo, Norway found that the risk of death due to prostate cancer was lower for men with higher levels of vitamin D.3

How Does Vitamin D Help Keep Prostate Cancer At Bay?

Vitamin D can attach itself to the receptors present on the surface of a cell. By binding to these receptors, vitamin D sends chemical signals that direct cell division. The prostate tissue also has Vitamin D receptors, and vitamin D can bind to them. This may cause cancerous cells to die, stop growing, or stop spreading to other parts of the body. Therefore, it is thought that vitamin D may help in protecting against the progression of prostate cancer.

Supplementing with vitamin D may help to slow the growth of cancerous cells, as cells in the prostate are able to take the inactive form of vitamin D and activate it.

Cancer is associated with inflammation, especially in the prostate gland . Vitamin D has shown to cause dramatic changes in the expression levels of many cell lipids and proteins, particularly those involved in inflammation. Thus Vitamin D helps alleviate the inflammation within the gland.45

Sources of Vitamin D


The flesh of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources.

Eggs and Dairy

Small amounts of vitamin D are found in cheese and egg yolks.


Some mushrooms provide vitamin D2 in variable amounts.

Fortified Foods

Foods fortified with Vitamin D can provide most of the vitamin D. For example, milk, breakfast cereals often contain added vitamin D, as do some brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine and other food products.

Sun exposure

Most people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight.6

Dosage – If you have prostate cancer and want to take vitamin D, a dosage of less than 10,000 IU per day would be safe.7

References   [ + ]

1. Khan, Masood A., and Alan W. Partin. Vitamin D for the management of prostate cancer. Reviews in urology 6.2 (2004): 95.
2. Marshall, David T., et al. Vitamin D3 supplementation at 4000 international units per day for one year results in a decrease of positive cores at repeat biopsy in subjects with low-risk prostate cancer under active surveillance. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 97.7 (2012): 2315-2324.
3. Tretli, S., et al. Association between serum 25 (OH) D and death from prostate cancer. British journal of cancer 100.3 (2009): 450-454.
4. Schwartz, Gary G. Vitamin D and intervention trials in prostate cancer: from theory to therapy. Annals of epidemiology 19.2 (2009): 96-102.
5. Taichman, Russel S., et al. The evolving biology and treatment of prostate cancer. The Journal of clinical investigation 117.9 (2007): 2351-2361.
6. Vitamin D – Fact Sheet for health Professionals, National Institutes of Health
7. Vitamin D3 Supplementation at 4000 International Units Per Day for One Year Results in a Decrease of Positive Cores at Repeat Biopsy in Subjects with Low-Risk Prostate Cancer under Active Surveillance, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism