Skin Cancer, Vitamin D3 and Sunlight

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Can Vitamin D3 supplementation Reduce Your Risks of Skin Cancer?

Full Disclosure: I am a 58 year old cancer survivor who worshiped the sun in my youth. I burned frequently. Some of those sunburns where severe. I was diagnosed with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma in 1995.

Studies confirm an inverse relationship with serum vitamin D3 and multiple myeloma. I had a bone marrow transplant in ’95 increasing my risk of skin cancer further.

I mention this only to go on record that this blog post is not about getting people to get less sun exposure. Some people will sit in the sun regardless. This blog post is designed to raise the possibility that supplementing with vitamin D3 may be an inexpensive way to reduce the risks of both Non-Melanoma Skin cancer (BCC and SCC) as well as Melanoma Skin Cancer.

Melanoma is a complicated, sometimes aggressive, sometimes not aggressive, cancer. There are a host of evidence-based, non-toxic therapies that can reduce the risk of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers.

The studies linked and excerpted below state that humans are healthier with vitamin D3 in their blood. Further, while a little bit of U.V. light is okay, too much U.V. predisposes you to skin cancers. I see the solution as being Vitamin D3 supplementation. I take 1000 mg x 3 daily with food.

To learn more about other evidence-based therapies that can help prevent the development of non-melanoma skin cancer or relapse, please watch the short video below:


Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer at a Glance-

  • Risks– UV Exposure, HPV, Genetics, Skin Pigment, Immunosuppression, Radiation Therapy, Age, Previous Skin Cancer,
  • Symptoms– Itching, Bleeding, Shape (A,B,C,D,E).
  • Diagnosis– Visual inspection (A,B,C,D,E), Skin Biopsy (Shave, Punch, Incisional/Excisional)
  • Prognosis- Staging-
  • Therapy– Conventional, Non-Conventional, Integrative, Alternative

Melanoma at a glance-

Risks UV Exposure, HPV, Genetics, Skin Pigment, Moles, Immunosuppression, Previous Skin Cancer Diagnosis, 
Symptoms- Mole, Shape (A,B,C,D,E), Itching, Bleeding, 
Diagnosis- Visual Inspection, Skin Biopsy, 
Prognosis Staging, In-situ, I, II, III, IV,  Five year survival rates
Therapy Conventional, Non-Conventional, Integrative, Alternative

I am both a long-term cancer survivor and cancer coach. Have you been diagnosed with either basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma? Or melanoma? Scroll down the page and let me know.

Thank you,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

“The International Agency for Research on Cancer has noted that there is sufficient evidence from studies in animals and in man to establish ultraviolet radiation as a human carcinogen. Skin cancer has been the most commonly studied cancer site with respect to UV radiation. The nature and timing of sun exposure appear to be important determinants of both the degree of risk and the type of skin cancer

It has been estimated that solar ultraviolet radiation accounts for approximately 93 percent of skin cancers and about half of lip cancers…

Several recent studies suggest a possible inverse relationship between ultraviolet radiation exposure and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, colon, breast and prostate cancer, and investigators have speculated that this might be due to the higher serum levels of vitamin D stimulated by high lifetime sun exposure.

Further, studies conducted within cohorts using stored pre-diagnostic serum suggest that those with high levels of vitamin D have lower incidence rates of a number of malignancies, particularly colon cancer. However, since serum vitamin D levels can be raised through the use of supplements without increasing risk for skin lip and other known UV-related cancers, changes to health policy with regard to exposure are not merited at this point.”

Skin cancer patients more likely to be deficient in vitamin D, study finds

“Skin cancer patients who avoid the sun are three times more likely to be vitamin-D deficient than healthy people, according to a new study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Vitamin-D deficiency puts adults at a higher risk for:

  • cardiovascular disease,
  • autoimmune disease (specifically multiple sclerosis),
  • some cancers and even death. E

xtremely low vitamin D levels in children causes rickets, a serious bone disease. In adults, it can cause a condition known as osteomalacia, or bone pain…

Vitamin D is synthesized in the body when UVB rays from the sun react with a precursor molecule in the skin called 7-dihydrocholesterol. Dermatologists advise skin cancer patients to avoid sun exposure, so in these patients are exposed to fewer UVB and therefore produce less vitamin D.

For the study, researchers looked at vitamin D levels in the blood plasma of 41 skin cancer patients with basal cell nevus syndrome who were participating in a clinical trial, and compared them to the vitamin D levels of people without the disease. BCNS is a genetic disease in which patients develop dozens or hundreds of basal cell carcinoma tumors that look like protuberant moles or shiny, ulcerlike bumps on their skin. Treatment involves surgical removal and comprehensive sun protection…

The researchers also found that patients were not following medical advice as diligently as they had expected. BCNS patients had higher vitamin D levels in summer than in winter, which means they were not effectively avoiding sunlight in the summer months. “If these guys who have hundreds of tumors are not listening to us, who is?” said Tang.

Having dark skin was another risk factor for vitamin-D deficiency, because skin pigment absorbs sunlight and reduces the amount of UVB radiation available to react with the skin’s 7-DHC precursor molecules. Being older was a risk factor for vitamin-D deficiency because the amount of 7-DHC in the skin decreases with age.

Overweight people were also at increased risk because vitamin D is fat-soluble. It gets stored in fatty tissue instead of circulating in the blood where it is needed.

“Vitamin-D deficiency may also be a problem in patients with sporadic skin cancers and not just patients with BCNS,” said Tang. “I care about this second group of patients very much because skin cancer is so common in the United States.”

Cutaneous vitamin D synthesis versus skin cancer development

“Clinicians including dermatologists have to recognize the convincing evidence that the protective effect of less intense solar radiation outweighs its mutagenic effect. In agreement with this assumption, it was concluded that many lives could be prolonged through careful exposure to sunlight or more safely, vitamin D-supplementation, especially in non-summer months…”



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