Vitamin D and cancer survival:
[Via NHS Choices: Behind the headlines]
Scientists are saying that although sunbathing is known to cause skin cancer, it may also help people survive when they get it, The Independent reported. The newspaper said that two studies have found that vitamin D, “may help improve survival for patients with skin and bowel cancer”. Professor Newton Bishop, lead author of the skin cancer study, is reported as suggesting that melanoma patients could get vitamin D from fatty fish or by taking supplements, but also warns: “There is some evidence from other studies that high levels of vitamin D are also harmful. So we should aim for a normal level rather than a very high one.”
These two studies assessed vitamin D levels in patients with colorectal cancer or melanoma. The colorectal cancer study found a link between higher vitamin D levels and increased survival, while the skin cancer study found a link between higher vitamin D levels and a reduced risk of relapse.
However, despite their findings, it is possible that vitamin D itself did not cause these improvements, and that some other factor is responsible. Further research is needed to study this link, and until then, the best advice is to maintain normal vitamin D levels through a healthy diet that includes food that contains vitamin D, and through normal daylight exposure. The risks of excessive sun exposure are well established and sunbathing and sunbeds cannot be recommended.
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