Sun exposure may prevent melanoma risk
Risk of melanoma between high and low vitamin D levels
According to a recent study published by the European Journal of Cancer, melanoma risk is directly associated with a lack of vitamin D.
The investigators measured the blood vitamin D levels of 137 participants who had been diagnosed with melanoma. The blood samples were collected at the time of diagnosis. Another group of 99 healthy participants served as the control group. The investigators collected samples of the control group between the months of October and April. The scientists then compared the blood collections of the group with melanoma with those of the control group. From these results, they investigated whether a lack of vitamin D levels had an association with melanoma risk.
- The control group (no melanoma) had vitamin D levels 50% higher than the melanoma group (27.8 ng/ml vs. 18 ng/ml).
- 66.2% of the melanoma group had vitamin D “deficiency,” compared to only 15.2% of the healthy control group. The scientists defined vitamin D deficiency as being equal to or less than 20 ng/ml. Meaning the melanoma group had more than 4x the risk of deficiency.
- The scientists defined vitamin D “sufficiency” as being equal to or greater than 30 ng/ml. They found that only 7.4% of melanoma patients were sufficient, compared to 37.4% of healthy controls. Hence, the melanoma group had about one-fifth the likelihood of having sufficient D levels.
The data was then adjusted for possible contributing factors such as age, sex, and body mass. Their analysis showed the following:
A noteworthy association was shown with vitamin D sufficiency vs deficiency. The participants with sufficient levels had only 4% of the melanoma risk when compared to those who were deficient. This strongly suggests that those with the lowest vitamin D levels had 25x the risk for melanoma. Those who were sufficient had a clear advantage over those who were deficient. They had only 13% of the melanoma risk.
What the findings suggest
This study suggests that sun deprivation may be a cause of melanoma. Seeing as around 90% of vitamin D is produced by sun exposure to the skin, this means the research is primarily research on sun exposure. This indicates that regular sun exposure provides much higher vitamin D levels, and therefore a reduced melanoma risk as according to the study.
It is always important to tan according to your skin type and to the safe guidelines of tanning. Whilst vitamin D may help reduce the risk of melanoma, you still need to take precautions to minimise UV over-exposure. Seeing as vitamin D comes naturally with the sun, it can often be easy to bask for too long!