A new study has found that regular users of vitamin D supplements have a considerably lower risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, than non-users. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, is the latest in a series of studies that have explored the link between vitamin D and skin cancer.
Table of contents
- 1 Using Vitamin D to Fight Melanoma
- 2 Vitamin D Research and Implications on Cancer
- 2.1 Melanoma: the most common type of skin cancer
- 2.2 Does a lack of vitamin D increase the risk of developing melanoma?
- 2.3 Does taking vitamin D supplements help prevent melanoma?
- 2.4 Can vitamin D help treat melanoma?
- 2.5 How much vitamin D should I take to prevent or treat melanoma?
- 2.6 Can I get enough vitamin D from sunlight?
- 2.7 Are there any potential side effects from taking vitamin D supplements?
Using Vitamin D to Fight Melanoma
Previous studies have mainly focused on the relationship between serum levels of calcidiol, a metabolite of vitamin D, and skin cancer. However, these studies have often yielded inconclusive or contradictory results. The new study, conducted under the North Savo Skin Cancer Program, took a different approach.
Researchers recruited 498 adult patients who were previously assessed to have an increased risk of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The patients were examined by experienced dermatologists and classified into different skin cancer risk classes based on their use of oral vitamin D supplements.
Logistic regression analysis showed that the risk for melanoma among regular users of vitamin D was reduced by more than half compared to non-users. Additionally, the study found that even occasional users of vitamin D may have a lower risk for melanoma than non-users. However, there was no statistically significant association between the use of vitamin D and the severity of photoaging, facial photoaging, actinic keratoses, nevus count, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
The research design was cross-sectional, and therefore, the researchers were unable to demonstrate a causal relationship. Additionally, the study did not explore the optimal dose of oral vitamin D for beneficial effects. Nevertheless, the findings warrant further attention from the scientific community at large.
Professor Ilkka Harvima of the University of Eastern Finland notes that until more is known, national intake recommendations should be followed. Other studies have also found evidence of the potential benefits of vitamin D in preventing melanoma.
Vitamin D Research and Implications on Cancer
Despite the new study’s limitations, the findings have important implications for public health. Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that can be fatal if not caught early. A 2015 study found that the rate of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, has more than doubled in the past three decades – and is on track to increase even more.
By identifying new ways to reduce the risk of melanoma, researchers can help to save lives and improve the health outcomes of those affected by the disease. Bearing this in mind, vitamin D supplementation may prove to be a highly cost-effective solution, potentially offering important protection against cancer with little to any drawbacks.
“We still need to follow the recommendations in each country on the dose of vitamin D supplement. However, in countries with a short daylight in winter, like in Finland, one might consider a higher dose of vitamin D, perhaps some 20-50 micrograms a day. The dose should not reach/exceed 100 micrograms because toxicity may take place. This is important to note because there are always people in populations who get too excited at scientific articles and consequently may take too high doses with resultant toxic effects,” Harvima told Medical Research.
While these results are promising, it’s important to note that taking vitamin D supplements should not be seen as a replacement for traditional methods of preventing skin cancer such as wearing sunscreen, avoiding prolonged sun exposure, and regular skin self-examinations.
The new findings appear in the journal Melanoma Research.
Melanoma: the most common type of skin cancer
According to the World Health Organization, melanoma is the fifth most common cancer worldwide and the second most common cancer in people aged 15-39. Here are the most important things to know about melanoma:
- Melanoma occurs when the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) in the skin begin to grow out of control. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin but is most commonly found in areas that are often exposed to the sun, such as the face, arms, and legs.
- Melanoma is caused by exposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds. UV radiation damages the DNA in skin cells, which can lead to the development of cancer. People with fair skin, light-colored eyes, and red or blond hair are at a higher risk for melanoma.
- The first signs of melanoma are usually a new mole or a change in an existing mole. Melanoma moles are usually asymmetrical and have uneven borders and multiple colors. They are often larger than a pencil eraser and can be itchy, painful or can bleed.
- Early detection and treatment are crucial for a good outcome. If melanoma is found early, it can often be treated successfully. If left untreated, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body, which can be life-threatening.
Does a lack of vitamin D increase the risk of developing melanoma?
Some studies have suggested that low levels of vitamin D may be associated with an increased risk of developing melanoma. However, more research is needed to confirm this association and to determine if taking vitamin D supplements can prevent melanoma.
Does taking vitamin D supplements help prevent melanoma?
More research is needed to determine if taking vitamin D supplements can prevent melanoma.
Vitamin D plays a critical role in the human body, regulating calcium and phosphate levels in the blood — essential nutrients that we need to keep our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.
Can vitamin D help treat melanoma?
Some studies have suggested that vitamin D may have anticancer properties and may help to slow the growth of melanoma cells. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings and to determine if vitamin D can be used as a treatment for melanoma.
How much vitamin D should I take to prevent or treat melanoma?
The amount of vitamin D needed to prevent or treat melanoma is not yet known. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D for adults is 600-800 IU per day. However, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.
Can I get enough vitamin D from sunlight?
Yes, your body can make vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. However, it is important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays by using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.
Are there any potential side effects from taking vitamin D supplements?
Taking too much vitamin D can cause side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, weakness, and confusion. High doses of vitamin D can also lead to an accumulation of calcium in the blood, which can damage the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.