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Melanoma: Is Vitamin D3 a treatment/prevention option?

By Jan Nelson MSN, NP-C, ABAAHP


     The sun is finally shinning with warmer temperatures, time to enjoy the outdoors! But, don’t forget to protect your skin from the UV rays! While we all love a bronze glow in the summer the downside to that glow is the increased risk of skin cancer.     

     Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in melanocytes, which are your pigment cells within the skin. Early detection and diagnosis are crucial to outcome. When caught early melanomas can be cured with relatively minor surgery.

     Spots that may be suspicious for melanoma usually show one or more of the following signs and symptoms, which are often referred to as the ABCDs.


           Border irregularity

           Color changes or too many colors in one mole

           Diameter more than 6mm – the size of a pencil eraser

Fair skin, light hair and light colored eyes, a history of intense sun exposure, close blood relatives with melanoma, moles that are unusually numerous, large, irregular, or funny looking are elevated risk factors to consider.

     Recent research has indicated the possibility of vitamin D3 delaying the recurrence of melanoma as well as improve overall survival rate. While data is still somewhat inconsistent, melanoma patients with higher 25OHD concentrations around the time of their diagnosis tended to have a lower Breslow thickness, which is associated with more favorable outcomes. Those with low 25OHD at time of diagnosis were linked with poor outcomes.

     Vitamin D3 actually is a pro-hormone which has also been shown to decrease inflammation as well as protect against breast cancer.

     I routinely test Vitamin D levels and have found 95% of my patients are deficient. So which supplements are better absorbed? A review of literature is really inconclusive, so whether you take the version in oil or powder, just take enough. Vitamin D3 can be taken with or without food.

    So, with all of this in mind, grab your hat, sunscreen, and vitamin D3 and get outside to enjoy the sunshine!

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