Lack of Vitamin D May Be Key To Why Black Men Get More Deadly Prostate Cancers

Nick Stockton | Quartz | May 4, 2014

It’s well established that black men are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer as white men. A new study (paywall) suggests that differences in the way African-Americans process vitamin D could explain some of these worse outcomes. For several reasons not completely understood, black men with prostate cancer appear to be more sensitive to vitamin D deficiency—and less able to create and use vitamin D—than men of other races.

In the study, the researchers compared 275 white men and 273 black men with recent prostate cancer diagnoses, sampled from clinics in the Chicago area. They found that black men with low levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to have highly-aggressive tumors as white men with similar vitamin D levels.

For at least 25 years, scientists have known that vitamin D has some association with prostate cancer, and that people with African origins generally have lower vitamin D levels than those with European origins. But addressing low vitamin D levels (which are associated with various other health problems, including rickets, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease) has been easier said than done...