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Vitamin D reduces risk of skin cancer

A new study led by the University of Eastern Finland in collaboration with the Kuopio University Hospital has found that people taking vitamin D supplements regularly have a considerably lower risk of developing melanomas (skin cancers).

Scientists have long known that vitamin D plays a key role in the normal functioning of the human body. While the relationship between vitamin D and skin cancers has been studied in the past, previous research has mainly focused on serum levels of calcidiol, a metabolite of vitamin D. However, the results of these studies have been inconclusive and even contradictory at times, since serum calcidiol levels have been associated both with a higher and lower risk of developing different types of melanomas. 

In the new study, the experts enrolled 498 adult patients with increased risk of skin cancers and divided them into three groups, based on their vitamin D intake: non-users, occasional users, and regular users. Serum calcidiol levels were measured in half of the patients and found to correspond to their reported use of vitamin D.

The analysis revealed that there were significantly fewer cases of melanoma among regular vitamin D users, and that even occasional users had a lower risk of skin cancers than non-users. These findings reinforce results from other recent studies that have provided evidence of the benefits of vitamin D in melanoma, such as the association of vitamin D regular use and less aggressive skin cancers.

“These earlier studies back our new findings from the North Savo region here in Finland. However, the question about the optimal dose of oral vitamin D in order to for it to have beneficial effects remains to be answered. Until we know more, national intake recommendations should be followed,” concluded senior author Ilkka Harvima, a professor of Dermatology and Allergology at the University of Eastern Finland.

The study is published in the journal Melanoma Research.

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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