Melanoma is a skin cancer condition that develops when pigment-producing cells become malignant. It is a particularly dangerous form of skin cancer because it may spread to other organs if not detected early.
Regular users of vitamin D supplements had a significantly reduced incidence of skin cancer, according to a research conducted by the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital.
Vitamin D is essential for the proper functioning of the human body and may be linked to many illnesses. A recent study has focused on the calcidiol, a component of vitamin D, and its relationship with skin cancer.
As serum calcidiol levels have been linked with both a slightly higher and a slightly lower risk of different skin cancers, the findings from these studies have been inconsistent and even contradictory at times. This may, in part, be due to the fact that serum calcidiol analyses do not provide information on the biological activity of vitamin D in the human skin, which may produce or inhibit biologically active vitamin D compounds.
The new study, which was funded by the North Savo Skin Cancer Programme, took a different approach: 498 adult patients who were found to be at an increased risk of a skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or melanoma, were recruited at the Kuopio University Hospital's dermatological outpatient clinic. Dermatologists from the University of Eastern Finland reviewed patients' background information and medical history.
The dermatologists classified the patients into three different skin cancer risk categories, namely, low risk, moderate risk, and high risk. Patients were classified into three groups, namely, non-users, occasional users, and regular users, based on their oral vitamin D consumption. Serum calcidiol levels were measured in half the patients and found to correspond to their self-reported vitamin D intake.
Regular vitamin D users had significantly less incidences of melanoma than non-users, and that regular users' skin cancer risk classification was considerably better than non-users, according to a logistic regression analysis. The risk for melanoma among regular users was significantly reduced, more than half, compared to non-users.
Even occasional vitamin D users may have a lower risk of melanoma than non-users, but there was no statistically significant association between the use of vitamin D and photoaging, facial photoaging, nevus count, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Other relatively recent studies have shown that vitamin D is beneficial in melanoma, such as the association with less aggressive melanoma.
Until we understand more, national intake recommendations should be followed, according to Professor Ilkka Harvima of the University of Eastern Finland's new findings from the North Savo area.
The rate of melanoma mortality in North Savo, according to researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, has previously been reported (BMC Cancer 2021).
"For this reason, as well, it is worthwhile to pay attention to the fact that the population in this region has adequate vitamin D intake," Harvima adds.
Emilia Kanasuo, Hanna Siiskonen, Salla Haimakainen, Jenni Komulainen, and Ilkka T. Harvima, "Regular use of vitamin D supplement is associated with fewer melanoma cases" (DOI: 10.1097/CMR.0000000000000870), Melanoma Research, 14 November 2022.