Ultraviolet radiation appears to reduce risk of three urogenital cancers

August 16, 2006

Through the production of vitamin D, ultraviolet B radiation reduces the risk of bladder, kidney, and prostate cancer and 13 other types of cancers, according to a recently published epidemiologic study.

Through the production of vitamin D, ultraviolet B radiation reduces the risk of bladder, kidney, and prostate cancer and 13 other types of cancers, according to a recently published epidemiologic study.

Researchers analyzed age-adjusted mortality rate data from 49 states and the District of Columbia for the years 1950 to 1969 and 1970 to 1994. The analysis included other cancer risk-modifying factors, including smoking, which was associated with 10 cancer sites; alcohol consumption, associated with nine cancer sites; urban residence, associated with seven cancer sites; and Hispanic heritage, associated with six cancer sites.

The researchers found that 15 types of cancer were inversely associated with ultraviolet B. In the earlier period, most of the associations of cancer death rates with alcohol consumption, Hispanic heritage, the proxy for smoking, urban residence, and poverty agreed well with the literature, they said.

“Enhancing vitamin D status appears to be the single most important simple thing that people can do to reduce their risk of cancer, apart from avoiding tobacco and moderation in intake of alcohol,” said co-author Cedric Garland, DrPH, of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center. “Vitamin D in the appropriate dose (1,000-1,500 IU/day) is giving society new hope in the fight to prevent cancer.”

Other recent studies showed that 1,000 to 1,5000 IU/day of vitamin D can reduce the risk of cancer incidence and death by 30% to 50%, added William Grant, PhD, of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center.

“The public receives a steady barrage of public service messages to avoid the sun and wear sunscreens in order to reduce the risk of skin cancer and melanoma,” he said. “Unfortunately, such messages do not mention that these risks are counterbalanced to a substantial degree by the advantages of producing vitamin D from solar UVB irradiance.”

The study was published in Anticancer Research (2006; 26:2687-700).