Though studies are not conclusive, researchers say vitamin D deficency may play a role as a potential risk factor for prostate cancer. Channel 7's MedTeam Dr. Ed Dominguez explains how massive doses of the vitamin may help treat the disease.
"Five at at time, just toss them in the throat and a gulf of water, and they're gone," says prostate cancer patient, Glen Bartz.
Each week, over a 3-hour stretch, Glen Bartz downs a bottle of highly potent, vitamin D. Then he follows it with the chemotherapy drug, Taxotere. "When I started the treatment, my PSA was 18.7," says Bartz.
Four months later, his PSA level, a test to track cancer progression, had dropped to nearly zero.
"Delighted, more than surprised, just very pleased that it went down that much," says Glen's wife, Muriel.
In a study out of Oregon Health and Science University, 25 percent of patients showed dramatic drops in their PSA levels. Most had their levels drop by 50 percent.
"Taxotere alone works in about 40 percent of patients, we saw over 80 percent of patients respond to the combination, so we're very encouraged by those earlier results," says Dr. Tomasz Beer.
Glen's bone scans are also encouraging. A year and a half after starting treatment, the cancer hasn't spread.
"We really think the vitamin D is having a biologic effect on the cancer that makes it more susceptible then to the chemotherapy that comes along afterwards," says Beer.
Doctors still need to confirm their findings in a larger study. But for Glen, the results are already in.
Dr. Ed Dominguez, Channel 7 MedTeam