New research published in the journal Cancer has found that UV affects prostate cancer incidence in the United States, with lower incidence in areas with greater amounts of UV.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among American men. Roughly 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Prostate cancer usually occurs in older men with the average age of diagnosis being 67. In 2013, an estimated 238,000 men were newly diagnosed with prostate cancer. Thirty-thousand men died from prostate cancer this past year.
Researchers think vitamin D may play a role in prostate cancer. Like in other cancers, vitamin D works by helping cells function properly, telling them when to divide or die. When cells aren’t regulated properly, they can divide too much or not die when they need to, leading to cancer.
In the past two years, researchers have carried out experimental studies to see if vitamin D can alter markers in very early stage prostate cancer. In one open-label trial, for example, vitamin D supplementation decreased either number of positive cores or Gleason scores in 60% of enrollees.
If vitamin D does play a role in prostate cancer, then we may see a latitudinal relationship; the further from the equator, the higher the incidence of prostate cancer or the worst the prognosis once you have prostate cancer.