The role of vitamin D in health maintenance and disease prevention in fields ranging from bone metabolism to cancer is currently under intensive investigation. A number of epidemiologic studies have suggested that vitamin D may have a protective effect on cancer risk and cancer-associated mortality. With regard to skin cancer, epidemiologic and laboratory studies suggest that vitamin D and its metabolites may have a similar risk reducing effect. Potential mechanisms of action include inhibition of the hedgehog signaling pathway and upregulation of nucleotide excision repair enzymes. The key factor complicating the association between vitamin D and skin cancer is ultraviolet B radiation. The same spectrum of ultraviolet B radiation that catalyzes the production of vitamin D in the skin also causes DNA damage that can lead to epidermal malignancies. Part II of this continuing medical education article will summarize the literature on vitamin D and skin cancer to identify evidence-based optimal serum levels of vitamin D and to recommend ways of achieving those levels while minimizing the risk of skin cancer.
View details for PubMedID 23062904