Small study suggests vitamin D may lower PSA levels in some prostate cancer patients
Vitamin D supplements can lower PSA levels in some prostate cancer patients, according to a study soon to be published in the journal BJU International.
However, Cancer Research UK points out that while interesting, the findings come from a small study, and did not show whether vitamin D supplementation improved symptoms, quality of life or survival.
The study involved 26 patients, all of whom had been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.
All of the patients were treated with vitamin D and the researchers measured changes in blood levels of the patients' prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein that can be used to indicate the severity of an individual's prostate cancer.
Five of the participants (just under 20 per cent) responded to treatment with vitamin D, with their PSA levels falling by an average of 45.3 per cent.
Responses typically lasted for between four and five months, while three of the patients benefited from a stabilisation in PSA levels for up to 36 months.
The researchers concede that further research will be needed in the form of randomised clinical trials and urge other scientists to consider this approach.
Commenting on the researchers' findings, Professor Malcolm Mason, a Cancer Research UK prostate cancer expert based at Cardiff University, said: "These early results are encouraging, but the study would need to be repeated in a much larger group over a longer period of time to establish whether or not men with prostate cancer will benefit from vitamin D.
"We have no evidence yet that vitamin D taken by people with symptoms of prostate cancer can reduce their symptoms, improve their quality of life or survival.
"We advise men with prostate cancer to consult their doctor before taking vitamin D supplements."