CancerVitamin D

Vitamin D is not associated with decreased melanoma risk

At the Society for Investigative Dermatology meeting, researchers from Kaiser Permanente, in Oakland, California reported some confusing findings.

Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer. Although it accounts for only 4% of skin cancer cases, it causes most skin cancer-related deaths. The good news is that it’s curable if caught early.

First, the details.

  • 68,611 adults participated in the Vitamins and Cohort Lifestyle (VITAL) study.
  • The effect of diet and vitamin D supplements alone and together were evaluated.
  • Food frequency questionnaires were used to determine dietary intake of vitamin D and other nutrients during the preceding year.
  • Data on vitamin supplement use over the preceding 10 years were also collected.
  • Total vitamin D intake from dietary and supplemental sources was then calculated for a 10-year period and compared with melanoma cases from the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) database.

And, the results.

  • Most participants were taking an additional 600 IU of vitamin D daily as a supplement.
  • There was no association between overall supplement use or duration of use with an increased or decreased risk of melanoma.
  • There was no association with melanoma risk when supplements were combined with diet.
  • There was a slightly increased risk of melanoma with diet alone.

The bottom line?
It’s not clear why diet alone was associated with a higher risk of melanoma.

Although there was no apparent protection, it’s possible that the levels of vitamin D were too low.

Others have suggested that there’s a decreased risk of melanoma with increasing intake of vitamin D from foods.

5/16/09 15:09 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.