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Vitamin D, often called the “sunshine vitamin,” is crucial for strengthening our bones and immune system. However, its connection to skin cancer is complex and frequently misunderstood. Let’s break down what recent studies have found about this relationship.

Understanding the Link Between Vitamin D and Skin Cancer
Understanding the Link Between Vitamin D and Skin Cancer

Study 1: Insights on Vitamin D and Skin Cancer


A group of researchers, Martin-Gorgojo, Gilaberte, and Nagore, reviewed research from 2011 to 2021 to explore how vitamin D impacts skin cancer. Here are the main points they discovered:

Key Takeaways

  1. Sunlight vs. Supplements: While sunlight is a natural way to produce vitamin D, it’s not the safest method because it can also increase the risk of skin cancer. The researchers recommend getting vitamin D from food or supplements instead.
  2. Conflicting Data: Studies have no clear consensus on whether vitamin D helps or harms skin cancer risk. Many factors, like how much sun exposure someone gets, play a role.
  3. Practical Advice:
    • Protect Your Skin: Always use sunscreen and protective clothing if you’re at risk for skin cancer.
    • Diet Over Sun: Prefer vitamin D from dietary sources rather than sun exposure.
    • Regular Checks: If you have melanoma or are at high risk for skin cancer, have your doctor check your vitamin D levels regularly.

Study 2: Vitamin D and Melanoma


Another study by Ombra and colleagues looked at how vitamin D might influence the risk of developing melanoma, a severe form of skin cancer.

Key Takeaways

  1. UV Radiation Risks: Sun exposure, especially in childhood, is a significant risk factor for melanoma. Early sunburns can double your risk.
  2. Potential Benefits of Vitamin D: There’s some evidence that vitamin D might help prevent cancer by stopping cells from growing uncontrollably. However, more research is needed to confirm this.
  3. Finding a Balance: It’s crucial to find a balance between protecting your skin from the sun and getting enough sunlight to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.
  4. Need for More Research: Scientists still need to study more to understand how vitamin D can prevent melanoma and improve outcomes for patients.


The connection between vitamin D and skin cancer is not straightforward. While sunlight helps our bodies produce vitamin D, it also increases the risk of skin cancer. The safest approach is to get vitamin D from food and supplements and protect your skin from excessive sun exposure. Regular vitamin D level checks are also advisable, especially if you’re at high risk for skin cancer.

Practical Tips

  1. Sun Protection: Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing to shield your skin from harmful UV rays.
  2. Dietary Sources: Incorporate vitamin D-rich foods, like fortified milk and fatty fish, into your diet, and consider supplements if necessary.
  3. Regular Monitoring: If you have a history of skin cancer or are at high risk, ask your doctor to monitor your vitamin D levels regularly.


  • Martin-Gorgojo, A., Gilaberte, Y., & Nagore, E. (2021). Vitamin D and Skin Cancer: An Epidemiological, Patient-Centered Update and Review. Nutrients, 13(12), 4292. DOI: 10.3390/nu13124292
  • Ombra, M. N., Paliogiannis, P., Doneddu, V., Sini, M. C., Colombino, M., Rozzo, C., … & Palmieri, G. (2017). Vitamin D status and risk for malignant cutaneous melanoma: recent advances. European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 26(6), 532-541. DOI: 10.1097/CEJ.0000000000000334
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