Vitamin D Receptors Increase Prostate, Breast Cancer Risks

Separate studies demonstrated subtle differences in the receptor for vitamin D reverse the anti-cancer action of the sunshine vitamin, increasing the risk of breast cancer in Caucasian women and prostate cancer in African-American men. These results underscore how naturally-occurring variants of the same gene, called polymorphisms, can have implications for cancer initiation and progression.

For example, in the breast cancer study, scientists found Caucasian women who carried specific versions of the vitamin D receptor gene (VDR) not only experienced increased risk for this cancer but may also be more prone to developing metastases. The differences in the gene sequence for the vitamin D receptor are associated with breast cancer risk and may also be linked to disease progression, experts said.

A second independent study linked a similar change in the VDR with amplified risk of prostate cancer for African-American men. Men with two copies of the F variant almost doubled the risk for prostate cancer developing in African-Americans, but not Caucasians.

Furthermore, the same men had twice the risk for developing high grade advanced prostate cancer, according to research.

EurekAlert August 6, 2004

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