A diagram of a vitamin D supplement capsule bottle

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer in which pigment-producing cells become malignant. Skin cancer is particularly dangerous because it can spread to other parts of the body if it is not diagnosed and treated early.

According to a study conducted by the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, fewer cases of melanoma were observed among regular users of vitamin D supplements. Experienced dermatologists have also found that regular use of vitamin D supplements significantly reduces the risk of skin cancer. The study, published in Melanoma researchIt involved nearly 500 individuals at high risk for skin cancer and found that regular users of vitamin D supplements had a reduced rate of melanoma compared to non-users.

Vitamin D is very important for the proper functioning of the human body and can be affected in various diseases. There has been extensive research on the relationship between vitamin D and skin cancer on calcidiol, a vitamin D metabolite, and its relationship to skin cancer. Previous studies have focused on examining serum levels of calcidiol and its association with skin cancer.

The findings of these studies are inconclusive and even contradictory, as serum calcidiol levels are both slightly higher and slightly lower in the risk of various skin cancers. This is partly because serum calcidiol assays do not provide information on vitamin D metabolism in human skin, as they can identify enzymes that produce biologically active vitamin D metabolites.

The new study, conducted by the North Savo Skin Cancer Program, took a different approach: 498 adult patients with a high risk of developing skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma, were recruited in dermatology. Kuopio University Hospital Outpatient Clinic. Experienced dermatologists at the University of Eastern Finland examined the patients’ skin after careful background and medical history.

Dermatologists also classify patients into different risk classes for skin cancer: low risk, moderate risk, and high risk. Using oral vitamin D supplements, the patients were divided into three groups: nonusers, occasional users, and regular users. Serum calcidiol levels were analyzed in half of the patients and they were similar to their vitamin D intake.

A key finding of the study was that regular vitamin D users had a lower incidence of melanoma than non-users, and that regular users had a significantly higher risk of skin cancer than non-users. Logistic regression analysis showed that the risk of melanoma among regular users was significantly reduced, more than half, compared to users.

The findings show that even occasional vitamin D users may have a lower risk of melanoma than non-users. However, there was no statistically significant association between vitamin D use and severity of photoaging, facial photoaging, actinic keratoses, nevus count, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Serum calcidiol levels were unrelated to these skin changes. Because the research design was cross-sectional, the researchers could not demonstrate a causal relationship.

Other relatively recent studies have also provided evidence of the benefits of vitamin D in melanoma, such as the association of vitamin D with less aggressive melanoma.

“These early studies support our new findings here in the northern Savo region of Finland. However, the question of the optimal dose of oral vitamin D to have a beneficial effect remains to be answered. Until we know more, national intake recommendations should be followed,” says Ilka Harvima, professor of dermatology and allergy at the University of Eastern Finland. They gave their opinion.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital previously reported (BMC Cancer 2021) that melanoma death rates in northern Savo were relatively high.

“For this reason, it is worth paying attention to the adequate amount of vitamin D for people living in this region,” said Harvima.

Reference: “Regular Use of Vitamin D Supplements Associated with Untreated Melanoma Cases: A Study of 498 Adults at Risk for Skin Cancer” by Emilia Canasuo, Hanna Siskonen, Sala Hymakainen, Jenni Komulainen, and Ilka T. Harvima, November 14, 2022; Melanoma research.
DOI: 10.1097/CMR.00000000000000870

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