In an online April 18th, 2014 publication in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, Johns Hopkins researchers reveal a link between chronic inflammation and a greater risk of high-grade prostate cancer. The study included 191 men with prostate cancer and 209 controls without the disease who received a placebo in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, which evaluated the effect of the drug finasteride on prostate cancer prevention. Biopsies conducted at the end of the study provided information on the presence of inflammation in benign prostate tissue. Among men who had inflammation in one or more of the biopsy cores, there was a 78% higher risk of having prostate cancer and more than twice the risk of aggressive disease in comparison with men who had no cores indicating inflammation. This observational study reveals an association between prostate inflammation and prostate cancer, although it is not proof that inflammation is the cause of prostate cancer.
A recent study published in Clinical Cancer Research, (May 1, 2014; 20; 2289-99) indicated that men at risk of prostate cancer are more likely to develop an aggressive form of the disease if they are deficient in vitamin D. University of Illinois – Chicago and Northwestern University researchers examined data from 667 men aged 40 to 79 who had elevated PSA levels or other prostate cancer risks. The men were screened for vitamin D levels. In general, normal blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D range from 30-80 ng/mL. Typical values for men in the study were under 20 ng/mL. About 44% of men with positive biopsies had low vitamin D levels. Among the men who had a positive cancer biopsy, those with very low vitamin D levels (under 12 ng/mL) had greater odds of more advanced and aggressive cancers than those with normal levels. The lower the vitamin D level, the greater the risk. It should be noted that while 25-hydroxyvitamin D is known to impact growth of both benign and malignant prostate cells, this is the first study to link vitamin D deficiency and biopsy outcomes in high-risk men. The authors note that “vitamin D deficiency could be a biomarker of advanced prostate tumor progression in large segments of the general population”, however, more research is needed. But it would be wise for men to be screened for vitamin D deficiency using the 25-hydroxyvitamin blood test and treated if needed.