Could vitamin D supplements reduce your risk of skin cancer?

Could vitamin D supplements reduce your risk of skin cancer?

Vitamin D supplement capsule bottle illustration

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs when pigment-producing cells become malignant. This is a particularly dangerous form of skin cancer because it can spread to other parts of the body if not detected and treated quickly.

A study conducted by the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital found that fewer cases of melanoma were seen in regular users of vitamin D supplements. Experienced dermatologists also found that those who regularly took vitamin D supplements vitamin D supplements had a significantly lower skin cancer risk. The study, published in melanoma researchinvolved nearly 500 people at high risk for skin cancer and showed that those who regularly took vitamin D supplements had a reduced incidence of melanoma compared to nonusers.

Vitamin D is vital for the proper functioning of the human body and may be implicated in various diseases. Extensive research has been conducted on the relationship between vitamin D and skin cancers, with an emphasis on calcidiol, a metabolite of vitamin D, and its correlation with skin cancers. Previous studies have focused on examining serum calcidiol levels and its link to skin cancers.

The results of these studies have been inconclusive and even sometimes contradictory, as serum calcidiol levels have been associated with both a slightly higher and slightly lower risk of different skin cancers. This may in part be explained by the fact that serum calcidiol analyzes do not provide information about vitamin D metabolism in human skin, which may express enzymes that generate biologically active metabolites of vitamin D or inactivate them.

The new study, conducted as part of the North Savo Skin Cancer Programme, took a different approach: 498 adult patients believed to be at increased risk of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma, were recruited from the dermatological laboratory. outpatient clinic of Kuopio University Hospital. Experienced dermatologists from the University of Eastern Finland carefully analyzed the basic information and medical history of the patients and examined their skin.

Dermatologists have also classified patients into different risk classes for skin cancer, namely low risk, moderate risk and high risk. Based on their use of oral vitamin D supplements, patients were divided into three groups: nonusers, occasional users, and regular users. Serum calcidiol levels were analyzed in half of the patients and found to match their self-reported vitamin D intake.

One of the main findings of the study is that there were significantly fewer cases of melanoma in regular users of vitamin D than in non-users and that the skin cancer risk classification of regular users was considerably better than that of non-users. A logistic regression analysis showed that the risk of melanoma in regular users was significantly reduced, more than half, compared to nonusers.

The results suggest that even occasional vitamin D users may have a lower risk of melanoma than nonusers. However, there was no statistically significant association between vitamin D use and severity of photoaging, facial photoaging, actinic keratoses, number of moles, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Serum calcidiol levels were not significantly associated with these skin changes either. Because the research design was cross-sectional, the researchers were unable to demonstrate a causal relationship.

Other relatively recent studies have also provided evidence for the benefits of vitamin D in melanoma, such as the association of vitamin D with less aggressive melanoma.

“These earlier studies confirm our new findings from the North Savo region here in Finland. However, the question of the optimal dose of oral vitamin D for it to have beneficial effects remains unanswered. Until we know more, national intake recommendations should be followed,” notes Professor of Dermatology and Allergology Ilkka Harvima of the University of Eastern Finland.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital have previously reported (BMC Cancer 2021) that the death rate from melanoma in northern Savo is relatively high compared to its incidence.

“For this reason also, attention should be paid to the adequate intake of vitamin D in the population of this region,” concludes Harvima.

Reference: “Regular use of vitamin D supplements is associated with fewer cases of melanoma compared with no use: a cross-sectional study in 498 adult subjects at risk for skin cancers” by Emilia Kanasuo, Hanna Siiskonen, Salla Haimakainen, Jenni Komulainen and Ilkka T. Harvima, November 14, 2022, melanoma research.
DOI: 10.1097/CMR.0000000000000870

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