'Vitamin D limits skin cancer risk'

A study conducted in the US shows that high doses of Vitamin D supplement could reduce the skin cancer risk in older, post-menopausal women by almost 80 percent.

A study conducted in the US shows that high doses of Vitamin D supplement could reduce the skin cancer risk in older, post-menopausal women by almost 80 percent.

However, a local cancer expert has warned that the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, could only be significant locally if a similar study was conducted here.

The four-year study, conducted by the Creighton University School of Medicine, investigated the cancer risk of 1179 post-menopausal women from rural Nebraska.

The women, all 55 years and older, had been free of cancer for 10 years before the start of the study.

One group was given between 1400mg and 1500mg of calcium supplements as well as Vitamin D3 supplements at three times the recommended daily allowance.

The second group was given only calcium supplementation, while another was given a placebo.

The study found that those receiving the Vitamin D supplementation showed a 77 percent reduction in skin cancer risk.

During the study 50 participants developed cancers of the breast, colon and lung.

Vitamin D supplementation is available in two forms - Vitamin D2 found in plants, and D3 which can be generated by between 10 to 25 minutes of exposure to the sun. Researchers recommend vitamin D3 because it is more active and effective in humans.

But Dr Carl Albrecht of the Cancer Association of South Africa warned that for the study to be relevant it would have to be done among the local population.

The study needs to be done using local participants of all races, he said. - Health e-news

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