Research indicates long term vitamin D deficiency could play role in aetiology of prostate cancer

Published: 9th November 2017

Tim Oliver MD FRCP

Research published today (10.00 GMT, 9th November 2017) in Scientific Reports indicates that long term vitamin D deficiency, associated with a lack of sunlight exposure, could play an important role in the development of prostate cancer. Professor Tim Oliver, one of the founders of male cancer charity Orchid, authored the research which found that anaerobic bacteria were present in the microbiome of 41% of prostate cancer patients tested, but not in any of the control samples – who did not have cancer. Anaerobic bacteria are increasingly recognised as flourishing in settings of a long-term lack of vitamin D, caused by a lack of sunlight exposure. The research adds further support to the concept that, given the known hypoxic state of cancers, such organisms could play a role in either accelerating progression of cancer or in the induction of cancer – as has been proven in stomach cancer. While the research was carried out in a small number of patients, when combined with previous studies, the degree of significance of the findings was found to be as high as smoking 5-9 cigarettes a day. Commenting Rebecca Porta, Chief Executive, Orchid said:

“This preliminary research indicates that a chronic lack of sunlight exposure could be linked to the induction or accelerated progression of prostate cancer. Our hope is that it will lead to further research which, if confirmed by ongoing trials being conducted by the Wolfson Institute in Barts, would mean we can better educate men on the importance of lifestyle factors in their risk of developing male cancers”.

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