Health news: Vitamin D protects the prostate

The June 15, 2008 issue of the International Journal of Cancer published the discovery that vitamin D exerts a protective effect on prostate cells against excess DNA-damaging oxidative stress that can lead to cancer.

The study, led by Rochester Medical Center associate professor of urology Yi-Fen Lee found that the active form of vitamin D protected cultured nonmalignant prostate cells while failing to protect prostate cancer cells.

“If you reduce DNA damage, you reduce the risk of cancer or aging,” Dr Lee explained. “Our study adds one more beneficial effect of taking a vitamin D supplement. Taking a supplement is especially important for senior citizens and others who might have less circulation of vitamin D, and for people who live and work areas where there is less sunshine…Vitamin D does not protect cancer cells from injury or damage, which is good,” she added.

Vitamin D can protect again prostate cancer by reducing the activity of two enzymes known to be elevated in prostate cancer suffers. The finding suggests that vitamin D could be used as a treatment for prostate cancer patients who have elevated levels of these enzymes.  “Many epidemiological studies have suggested the beneficial properties of vitamin D,” Dr Lee observed. “Our findings reflect what we see in those studies and demonstrate that vitamin D not only can be used as a therapy for prostate cancer, it can prevent prostate cancer from happening.”

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