Sun exposure and sun-sensitive skin may decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer by up to 50%.
Presented by Rachel Neale, Ph.D. at the American Association for Cancer Research in Nevada on June 18-21, the results of the study have shown that people living in areas with greater levels of sun exposure had a decreased risk of pancreatic cancer and that, for those with least sun sensitive skin or a history of skin cancer, the risk was still further decreased.
The study interviewed 714 participants in Queensland between 2007-2011, alongside a control group of 709 people, and recorded their location of birth, skin cancer history and skin type. Using NASA databases the researchers were able to measure the levels of ultraviolet radiation at each individual’s birth place.
The results showed that those born in areas with higher levels of ultraviolet radiation had a 24% lower risk for pancreatic cancer than those born in areas with lower levels. They also showed that participants with the least sun-sensitive skin had a 49 % decreased risk and that the risk was lowered by 40% for those who had a history of skin cancer or other sun-related skin lesions.
These findings seem to contradict previous studies which have shown that patients with high levels of vitamin D have a greater risk of pancreatic cancer, but Neale argues that this should encourage further research into the links between sun exposure and pancreatic cancer particularly in re-evaluating the use of vitamin D in the prevention of pancreatic cancer.
While these results are encouraging, further studies on larger subject groups are necessary and people need to be mindful of the risks as well as the benefits of sun exposure.
Written by James Stunt
Rachel E. Neale et al., (2012) Association between ambient ultraviolet radiation at birth, skin type, skin cancer history and pancreatic cancer. Presented at the American Association for Cancer Research ”Pancreatic Cancer: Progress and Challenges Conference June 18-21, 2012.
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