Evidence For Beneficial Effects Of Vitamin D Deficiency On Melanoma
A recent study suggests that melanoma patients with vitamin D deficiency may have fewer disease recurrences and lower overall mortality rates.
The study suggests that vitamin D deficiency could benefit melanoma patients. The study suggests that vitamin D deficiency could benefit melanoma patients.
The two hormone-like substances (trigestion and calcification) involved in skin aging and ageing in general - both vitamin D and testosterone - are found in increased amounts in melanoma (skin cancer) and between melanoma and skin cancer.
In light of these findings, a team led by Dr. John Fagan, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, set out to determine the effects of vitamin D deficiency on melanoma rates.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is manufactured in skin to boost nerve, muscle and immune system functions, among other functions.
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a number of health problems, including impaired bone health, autoimmune diseases and even reduced fertility. However, less is known about the benefit of vitamin D deficiency to skin cancer.
The possibility of benefit
In a multicenter randomized trial, 758 people in the US were recruited with non-melanoma skin cancer over a period of 3 years. Each patient was randomized to either receive vitamin D supplements, 300 IUs/day or a placebo.
The most common side effects reported by patients were numbness and weakness of arms and legs, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Twenty-nine melanoma patients were included in the results. They were followed-up for 5 years.
The results showed that the vitamin D deficiency patients had significantly less recurrence of the disease - 3 in every 100 patients; compare this with the 10 in 100 patients with vitamin D supplementation, whose death rates were reduced by 12%.
The researchers also found that patients with melanoma had a 20% lower overall mortality rate and showed fewer diease recurrences following treatment. These results show that the benefits of a lack of vitamin D dependency were felt at the time of treatment.
"Importantly, the results were seen in a population of patients with the basal-like form of melanoma, one of the most common types in young people and largely a mutation-prone disease."
What is the significance of these findings?
Although the study has a significant number of caveats, including a lack of data for the overall study population, it has presented evidence that people with a vitamin D deficiency - who are also at increased risk of developing malignant melanoma - may be at a reduced risk of melanoma cancer.
Dr. Fagan also suggests that "using vitamin D to treat melanoma, especially a type of melanoma that has a high mutation rate, could help reduce the number of melanomas and reduce mortality rates in the future."
In addition, he is careful to reiterate that further research is needed to establish the strengths and limitations of the findings.
Dr. Fagan believes that the findings are important because they suggest that vitamin D may have a role to play in the prevention of melanoma in the future.
Previously, Medical News Today reported that vitamin D deficiency significantly increases the risk of one of the deadliest cancers for females.