One of the toughest decisions with prostate cancer is whether to operate or continue to monitor how it develops. Now, Northwestern University and University of Arizona researchers say they’ve found a way to help identify aggressive cases that might need surgery.

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, they link low levels of Vitamin D in the blood to aggressive prostate cancer.

Dr. Adam Murphy. Northwestern University

Dr. Adam Murphy. Northwestern University

“Vitamin D deficiency may predict aggressive prostate cancer,” says Dr. Adam Murphy, a urologist and assistant professor of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who was the study’s lead investigator. “Men with dark skin, low vitamin D intake or low sun exposure should be tested for vitamin D deficiency when they are diagnosed with an elevated PSA or prostate cancer. Then, a deficiency should be corrected with supplements.“

Murphy suggests that, even absent any worries about prostate cancer, men should check their Vitamin D levels because a deficiency also can be a sign of other health concerns.

“All men should be replenishing their vitamin D to normal levels,” Murphy says. “It’s smart, preventive health care.”

In fact, he says most people in Chicago should take Vitamin D — he recommends 1,000 to 2,000 international units a day, more than the usually recommended 600 IU — especially during the winter, when they get less exposure to the sun, which helps the body naturally produce the vitamin.

“It’s very hard to have normal levels when you work in an office every day and because of our long winter,” he says.

Of 190 men in the study who had prostate-removal surgery, 87 had aggressive prostate cancer — and that group overall had Vitamin D levels in the blood sharply lower than normal, which is over 30 nanograms per milliliter.


A new tool to help parents of young kids

One of the many worries for new parents is knowing whether their infant or toddler is behind in terms of motor development.

Now, an interactive tool can help parents tell if there’s a reason to be concerned about a child’s physical development. Offered by the Elk Grove Village-based American Academy of Pediatrics, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, it’s available online at to help assess kids under 5 years old.

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