By John Salak–
Melanoma may be the rarest of skin cancers, but it is undoubtedly the deadliest, accounting for the vast majority of skin cancer-related deaths. The American Cancer Society reports that approximately 100,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma annually, and about 8,000 die from the disease—the vast majority being Caucasian.
While survival rates have risen, the deadliest skin cancer remains a substantial threat. Good news out of Finland suggests that regular vitamin D supplements can significantly lower the chance of contracting melanoma in high-risk individuals while reducing the risk of developing other skin cancers.
Studies examining the link between vitamin D and skin cancers are not new. Past research focused on serum levels of calcidiol, a metabolite of vitamin D, and their results have been inconclusive.
Various research projects have separately shown that serum calcidiol levels can both be slightly higher and lower the risks of various skin cancers.
The contradicting research results may stem from the analysis of the metabolism of vitamin D melanoma treatments. The Finish research conducted under the North Savo Skin Cancer Programme took a different approach when it examined almost 500 adults who had an increased risk of skin cancer. The researchers broke the adults into three groups: non-users, occasional users, and regular users.
The results, which mirrored some earlier work, revealed that regular users of melanoma vitamin D supplements reduced their risk of melanoma by more than half compared to non-users. Even occasional users recorded lower risks than non-users.
“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 to have beneficial effects remains to be answered. Until we know more, national intake recommendations should be followed,” advised Ilkka Harvima, a professor at the University of Eastern Finland.
While there is not a target dosage yet, the impact of regular vitamin D supplements is good news for those dealing with melanoma.