Substantial experimental evidence indicates that the hormonal form of vitamin D promotes the differentiation and inhibits the proliferation, invasiveness, and metastasis of human prostatic cancer cells. Results from epidemiologic studies of vitamin D status and/or vitamin D receptor (VDR) polymorphisms and prostate cancer risk have been mixed. We conducted a population-based, case-control study of advanced prostate cancer among men ages 40 to 79 years from the San Francisco Bay area.
Interview data on lifetime sun exposure and other risk factors were collected for 905 non-Hispanic White men (450 cases and 455 controls). Using a reflectometer, we measured constitutive skin pigmentation on the upper underarm (a sun-protected site) and facultative pigmentation on the forehead (a sun-exposed site) and calculated a sun exposure index from these measurements. Biospecimens were collected for 426 cases and 440 controls. Genotyping was done for VDR polymorphisms in the 5' regulatory region (Cdx-2), exon 2 (FokI), and the 3' region (TaqI and BglI).
Reduced risk of advanced prostate cancer was associated with high sun exposure determined by reflectometry [odds ratio (OR), 0.51; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.33-0.80] and high occupational outdoor activity (OR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.48-1.11). Significant risk reductions with the high-activity alleles FokI FF or Ff, TaqI tt, and BglI BB genotypes and a nonsignificant reduction with Cdx-2 AG or AA genotype were observed in the presence of high sun exposure, with ORs ranging from 0.46 to 0.67. Our findings support the hypothesis that sun exposure and VDR polymorphisms together play important roles in the etiology of prostate cancer.