Vitamin D levels as biomarkers of tumor aggressiveness

Patients with a local prostate carcinoma, whose disease takes an aggressive course, often show a vitamin D deficiency in the blood. This has recently been demonstrated by a study by Northwestern University Evanston. Men should therefore be tested for vitamin D if they have elevated levels of PSA or are diagnosed with prostate cancer. The importance of vitamin D content in the development and development of prostate cancer is the subject of repeated scientific research. As early as 2015, US researchers came to the conclusion that vitamin D intake could potentially halt the progression of low-grade tumors in the prostate gland.

A recent study by the Northwestern University of Evanston now for the first time establishes a direct correlation between vitamin D levels in the blood and the aggressiveness of the tumor. Aggressiveness is characterized by the fact that cancerous cells have already begun to leave the prostate. The probability of the formation of metastases is increased,"explains Dr. Pedram Derakhshani, urologist at the West German Prostate Center in Cologne. 

To this end, the scientists examined 190 men who underwent radical prostate surgery between 2009 and 2014. The result: men diagnosed with an aggressive tumor had an average vitamin D value of 22.7 ng/ml, which is well below the limit of 30 ng/ml. In men with non-aggressive prostate cancer, the average vitamin D value of 27 ng/ml was significantly higher. Particularly in the case of Americans of African descent, it was found that a low vitamin D level is associated with the occurrence of particularly malignant prostate tumours.

Measure vitamin D levels

In the future, vitamin D could be an important biomarker for the aggressiveness of the disease in men with a localized prostate carcinoma with low or medium risk, and should definitely be included in therapy considerations, says Dr. Pedram Derakhshani of the West German Prostate Center in Cologne. It is also advisable to measure the vitamin D level in patients with elevated PSA values or the presence of a locally limited prostate carcinoma and to supply a vitamin D preparation if necessary, according to the Cologne urologist.


  1. Nyame YA, Murphy AB, Bowen DK, Jordan G, et al.: Associations Between Serum Vitamin D and Adverse Pathology in Men Undergoing Radical Prostatectomy. J Clin Oncol. 2016 Apr 20;34 (12): 1345-9. doi: 10.1200/JCO. 2015.65.1463. Epub 2016 Feb 22.

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