17 Feb 2011
Making strange headlines this week, the American Academy of Dermatology acknowledged that some evidence now suggests that vitamin D — the sunshine vitamin — may in some instances be protective against melanoma just as it appears to be protective against dozens of other cancers.
Skin & Allergy News reported this week that the topic was discussed at the recent American Academy of Dermatology convention in New Orleans. “Calcium and vitamin D supplementation has been associated with a 50 percent lower risk of melanoma in postmenopausal women at increased risk due to a history of non-melanoma skin cancer,” Skin & Allergy News reported, noting carefully that this effect was contained to a relatively small group of women in a recent randomized prospective trial who received 400 IU of daily vitamin D supplementation along with 1,000 mg of calcium for seven years.
Vitamin D researchers say that 400 IU in any study is far too small a dose to show any large effect, as 2,000 IU to 5,000 IU daily is considered natural by those who study vitamin D. But another sub-group of another large study, The Women’s Health Initiative, showed that women with higher vitamin D blood levels had lower melanoma risk.
In that study, women with vitamin D blood levels below 20 ng/ml, followed for seven years, had a five-fold higher incidence of melanoma than women with vitamin D levels above 30 ng/ml.
The AAD recently applauded a report suggesting that 20 ng/ml was vitamin D sufficient — a finding that the entire vitamin D research community refuted. Vitamin D scientists recommend 40-60 ng/ml as target vitamin D blood levels.
AAD opposes any intentional UV exposure to make vitamin D, even though UV exposure to the skin is the body’s natural and intended way to make “the sunshine vitamin.”