A Vitamin D – Prostate Cancer Connection and Other News.

There has been much discussion concerning the role of blood vitamin D levels and its metabolism and their relationship to prostate cancer. A study examining this relationship published in the April 12th issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that men with the highest plasma levels of vitamin D “were 57% less likely to develop a lethal form of the disease.”  Plasma vitamin D levels and common variation among several vitamin D-related genes associated with its metabolism were associated with lethal prostate cancer risk, suggesting that vitamin D is relevant for lethal prostate cancer. However, vitamin D levels did not affect the chances of developing prostate cancer. It should be noted that vitamin D levels were determined by the 25-hydroxyvitamin D assay and not the 1,25-dihydroxy assay. One can attain sufficient vitamin D levels from foods, D3 supplements of varying strengths (units) as well as from calcium citrate or calcium carbonate supplements which also contain vitamin D. It is strongly recommended that the amount (units) of vitamin D required to maintain an optimal blood level should be determined in consultation with a physician as highly excessive amounts may be harmful. Optimal serum levels of vitamin D are 20-50 ng/mL in the USA according to some sources while others recommend 50-80 ng/mL. (International levels are 50-125 nMol/L.)  A summary of this research appeared in the April 27th, 2012 issue of the Prostate Cancer Foundation NewsPulse. In addition to this study, this issue of NewsPulse also contained articles dealing with High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) treatments and proton beam radiation therapy.

The April 3rd, 2012 issue of ZeroHour from the Project to End Prostate Cancer contained two articles of specific interest. One described a study concluding that oxygen levels measured in tumors might be used as a good predictor of prostate cancer recurrence. The other discussed a new zirconium radiotracer (89Zr-5A10)  designed specifically to target free PSA (a better biomarker of prostate cancer) as opposed to serum PSA. This radiotracer can be used in conjuction with positron emission tomography (PET) to identify metastatic bone lesions in a more specific manner than traditional bone scans.

The April 14th, 2012 issue of the Prostate Cancer Research Institute (PCRI) Weekly  contained information about availability and enrollment in Phase III clinical studies of alpharadin (radium-223 chloride) in hormone-refractory patients with symptomatic bone metastases. Alpharadin uses alpha-particle radiation from radium-223 to kill cancer cells by specifically targeting bone metastases by virtue of its property as a calcium mimic. It is being developed by a Norwegian company, Algeta ASA in collaboration with Bayer.

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