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Less Severe Melanoma Linked with Higher Levels of Vitamin D

Posted: September 29, 2009

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It's not clear how food, sun exposure and supplements contributed to the higher levels of vitamin D in some people, although they did take more multivitamins and cod liver oil, she said.

Melanoma is the cause of most skin cancer deaths, even though it accounts for less than 5% of skin cancer cases. The best way to prevent melanoma is by avoiding excessive sun exposure. To boosts levels of vitamin D, people with melanoma should take daily supplements, the authors concluded, and consume foods that contain vitamin D, such as fatty fish and some fortified cereals.

The study is provocative and "somewhat contrary to traditional thinking," said Dr. Adit Ginde, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. More work needs to be done to prove that vitamin D levels directly affect skin cancer development and to determine if increasing the levels will help people with melanoma, he said.

Vitamin D appears to be more than a cancer fighter. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, infections and poor overall health. And adults with low levels may suffer from lower bone mineral density.

But researchers have noticed that vitamin D deficiency has been on the rise in recent decades. An earlier study led by Ginde found that more than 75% of Americans don't have high enough vitamin D levels, with African-Americans and Latinos at especially high risk.