Vitamin D Status and Risk of Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Black and White Men

In a 16-year prospective study involving 481 Black male and 43,468 White male participants in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, results indicate that a higher risk of cancer incidence and mortality in Black men, compared to White men, may be attributable to poorer vitamin D status among Black men. During 16 years of follow-up, 99 Black men (21%) and 7,019 White men (16%) were diagnosed with cancer. Using Cox modeling adjusted for dietary, lifestyle, and medical risk factors, Black men showed a 32% increased risk of total cancer incidence, and an 89% increased risk of total cancer mortality, especially digestive system cancer mortality (relative risk=2.24), compared to White men. However, in a subgroup of Black and White men with relatively few risk factors for hypovitaminosis D, Black men did not show a significantly increased risk of total cancer incidence or mortality, compared to White men. On the other hand, Black men with additional risk factors for poorer vitamin D status had a significantly higher risk of cancer incidence (relative risk= 1.57) and mortality (relative risk= 2.27), especially digestive system cancer. Thus, the authors of this study conclude, “Our results suggest that the high frequency of hypovitaminosis D in Blacks may be an important, and easily modifiable, contributor to their higher risk of cancer incidence and mortality.”

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