People with levels of higher serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D were more likely to develop squamous cell or basal cell carcinoma the scientists found. Other factors, including increased exposure to sunlight, likely complicate the relationship. The news was reported online in Archives of Dermatology.
The relationship between vitamin D and skin cancer is complex and studies have yielded conflicting results acknowledges Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks news related to cancer and heart disease.
"Some research suggests that vitamin D might reduce the risk of basal cell carcinoma, but other studies have had the opposite outcome," explains Jesse Slome, AACII's director. The researchers analyzed data, over an average of 9.8 years of follow-up, from over 3,200 white members of a health maintenance organization who had a high probability of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer.
The researchers found, 240 patients developed nonmelanoma skin cancer, including 49 with squamous cell carcinoma, 163 with basal cell carcinoma, and 28 with both. Some 80% of the cases occurred in sites frequently exposed to the sun.
When patients were divided into four groups according to their D levels, there was a trend linking the higher levels and skin cancer risk that was significant.
The findings add "to the limited and conflicting epidemiological investigation regarding the relationship between vitamin D and [nonmelanoma skin cancer], the researchers concluded. They added that, aside from UVB light, the finding might also be confounded by such things as participants' vitamin D levels over a lifetime and consumption of vitamin D supplements, which they were unable to investigate.
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