Dietary vitamin D supplements found to reduce risk of melanoma

Jan 11, 2023
Regular vitamin D intake linked to lesser risk of melanoma. Source: Getty

Melanoma is one of Australia’s most common cancers, and now a study has found that the regular intake of a common vitamin supplement can reduce a person’s risk of skin cancer.

New research conducted by dermatologists at the University of Eastern Finland has found that individuals who regularly took Vitamin D supplements had a 50 per cent reduced risk of melanoma, as opposed to those who don’t take the supplement.

According to Cancer Australia, Melanoma is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country, with an estimation of 1 in 17 people at risk of being diagnosed with the cancer by the age of 85.

While the sun’s UV rays are one of the best sources of Vitamin D, it is also the major cause of skin cancer. Cancer Council Australia has advised Australians to maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D to avoid the risk of Vitamin D deficiency.

Given that staying out in the sun for too long runs the risk of overexposure to UV rays and increases the likelihood of melanoma, Vitamin D supplements can serve as a suitable substitute.

As part of the recent study, dermatologists recruited over 490 adults who were at a higher risk of any form of skin cancer, including carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, and examined their skin.

From there the patients were then categorised as low, moderate, and high in terms of the level of risk they had of developing skin cancer.

These patients were then sectioned into three groups based on how often they regularly consumed oral Vitamin D supplements, these included: non-users, occasional users and regular users.

Through their research, the dermatologist found that participants who regularly consumed Vitamin D supplements had a lower risk of melanoma compared to those who didn’t take the supplement.

Ilkka Harvima a professor of Dermatology and Allergology at the University of Eastern Finland and one of the researchers involved in the study said in a press release, that while the optimal dosage of oral Vitamin D is still yet to be determined, the benefits are evident. Citing findings from previous studies that support the latest research.

“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,” Harvima noted.

For those looking to increase their Vitamin D intake through the sun, Cancer Council recommends Australians get sun exposure when the UV Index is 3.

For people with low Vitamin D levels considering taking supplements, Healthy Bones Australia recommends adults over 70, who have some sun exposure,  take 800 International Units (IU) daily and about 1,000 IU – 2,000 IU per day for those at risk of Vitamin D deficiency or choosing to avoid sun exposure.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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