Vitamin D deficiency is associated with higher mortality in melanoma patients
There has been quite a bit of news regarding Vitamin D in the medical literature over the last several years. Numerous studies have highlighted a correlation among Vitamin D deficient patients and higher rates of cancers, including breast, colorectal, bladder and prostate cancer. Vitamin D is a hormone synthesized by ultraviolet radiation in the skin. It can also be obtained through dietary intake, though most Americans do not eat a diet rich in Vitamin D. Melanoma skin cancer is a proliferation of cancerous melanocytes that have metastatic potential. The overall lifetime risk for melanoma in the United States is 1 in 38 for Caucasian Americans. As excessive sun exposure is a strong risk factor for the development of melanoma skin cancer, it is important to understand any relationship between Vitamin D and melanoma. A recent study examined the relationship between serum Vitamin D levels and melanoma.
This systematic meta-analysis included data from twenty-five studies. The intention of this study was to investigate the risk of melanoma and prognosis of melanoma among different Vitamin D levels in patients. In regards to the prognosis of melanoma patients, the researchers in this study investigated the relationship of tumor thickness (Breslow depth), mortality rates and vitamin D status. The findings revealed lower Vitamin D levels associated with higher Breslow thickness and mortality rates in patients with melanoma. This is consistent with evidence obtained from previous studies with other malignancies. The study did not find a statistically significant association between Vitamin D levels and melanoma incidence.
According to the authors of this study, the mechanism underlying the protective effects of Vitamin D has been attributed to the ability of vitamin D metabolite to suppress proliferation and activate differentiation of melanoma cells that express Vitamin D receptors (VDR). Additionally, vitamin D may inhibit invasion and angiogenesis of tumor cells. Finally, additional research is needed to determine the causal relationship of Vitamin D deficiency and melanoma as well as the benefit of Vitamin D supplementation in melanoma patients.
Byline: Sarah B. W. Patton, MSHS, PA-C
Posted March 3, 2020
Adapted from: Tsai TY, Kuo CY, Huang YC. The association between serum vitamin D level and risk and prognosis of melanoma: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2020 (Epub ahead of print).