Prostate cancerIntroduction

More work is required to fully understand the risk factors for PCa incidence and progression.

The role of vitamin D in risk of prostate cancer (PCa) is still under investigation.

Several studies found that higher solar ultraviolet exposure in youth and throughout life associated with reduced risk.

Some ecological studies have also been interpreted as showing an inverse correlation between solar ultraviolet B (UVB) doses and PCa.

However, studies of PCa with respect to prediagnostic serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels have been mixed: meta-analyses of all observational studies indicate there is no effect on PCa incidence.

On the other hand, higher 25(OH)D levels are associated with reduced risk of more aggressive cases of PCa.

Once PCa develops, higher serum 25(OH)D levels are associated with increased survival rate. The mechanisms of protection include anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic effects, and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis, invasion, and metastasis. It appears that vitamin D, especially early in life protects the prostate against cancer by eliminating rogue cells that could lead to PCa, and, later, reduces tumor growth and metastasis.

More work is required to fully understand the risk factors for PCa incidence and progression.

It was hypothesized in 1990 that vitamin D could reduce the risk of PCa based on an ecological study in the United States1 and updated later2 3. Since then, much effort has been devoted to evaluating this hypothesis including additional ecological studies, observational studies, and intervention studies.

An ecological study suggests that the apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4) allele, which increases cholesterol production, as well as dietary factors are important risk factors for PCa and can explain some of the geographical variation of PCa mortality rates in the U.S.4 5.

Page last edited: 24 August 2011


  1. Schwartz, G. G. Hulka, B. S. Is vitamin D deficiency a risk factor for prostate cancer? (Hypothesis). Anticancer Res. 1990 Sep-Oct; 10 (5A): 1307-11.
  2. Hanchette, C. L. Schwartz, G. G. Geographic patterns of prostate cancer mortality. Evidence for a protective effect of ultraviolet radiation. Cancer. 1992 Dec 15; 70 (12): 2861-9.
  3. Schwartz, G. G. Hanchette, C. L. UV, latitude, and spatial trends in prostate cancer mortality: all sunlight is not the same (United States). Cancer Causes Control. 2006 Oct; 17 (8): 1091-101.
  4. Grant, W. B. A multicountry ecological study of risk-modifying factors for prostate cancer: apolipoprotein E epsilon4 as a risk factor and cereals as a risk reduction factor. Anticancer Res. 2010 Jan; 30 (1): 189-99.
  5. Grant, W. B. The roles of ultraviolet-B irradiance, vitamin D, apolipoprotein E epsilon4, and diet in the risk of prostate cancer. Cancer Causes Control. 2011 Jan; 22 (1): 157-8.