June 30, 2011

Calcium Plus Vitamin D Decrease Melanoma Risk

(Ivanhoe Newswire)-- The risk of obtaining melanoma, a life-threatening skin cancer, may be reduced through a simple combination of calcium and vitamin D. A new study by Stanford University School of Medicine found that women who once had non-melanoma and took a calcium-vitamin D combination developed 57 percent fewer melanomas than women with similar histories who were not given the supplement. The study focused on non-melanoma skin cancers because they are the most common forms of skin cancer.

Vitamin D is known for its role in bone-growth while also affecting non-skeletal cells. Vitamin D controls how quickly cells replicate, a process often impacted by cancer. Various institutions have suggested that vitamin D is also associated with lower risks of colon, breast, prostate, and other cancers. 

Dermatologist Jean Tang, M.D., PhD analyzed a study that followed 36,000 women ages 50 to 79 for an average of seven years. Half of these women took a daily dose of 1,000 mg calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D while the control half took a placebo pill. The lack of protective effect in women without a history in non-melanoma skin cancer may be due to the amount of vitamin D given to the patients during the trial. Patients in the placebo group were allowed to take as much vitamin D as the patients that were provided the calcium and vitamin D supplement, thus the experimental difference between these two groups was small.

David Feldman, M.D., professor emeritus of endocrinology and co-author of the study was quoted as saying, "It's somewhat surprising that there was an effect on melanoma risk, and I think many potential benefits of vitamin D may not have been detected."

Men were not included in the study. Researcher can not be sure whether the protective effect of the supplements would also apply to men with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer.

Tang was quoted as saying, "These results spur us to do more studies."

Tang plans to do multiple lines of research to examine the potential relationship between vitamin D and cancer prevention.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, June 27, 2011